facebook tracking pixel George Boardman: Drinking the Kool-Aid, and when silence is golden | TheUnion.com

George Boardman: Drinking the Kool-Aid, and when silence is golden

By George Boardman | Columnist

Enough people have consumed Donald Trump’s election fraud Kool-Aid that you can expect denial and challenges to election outcomes for the foreseeable future.

This November alone, 43 candidates who back Trump’s unproven claim of election fraud are running for governor, attorney general, or secretary of state in 27 states, according to States Union Action, which bills itself as a nonpartisan group tracking state races.

In three states—Arizona, Michigan and Alabama—election deniers are candidates for all three of those positions. Zonie Republicans in particular have taken Trump’s claims to heart, running their own bizarre recount of the 2020 election that failed to prove fraud.

The internet has been awash in toxic election narratives. The most prevalent fall into three categories, according to firms that track this stuff: Continued falsehoods about rampant election fraud; threats of violence and citizen policing of elections; and divisive posts on health and social policies that have become central to political campaigns.

Naïve people who respond to these hot-button issues are being egged on by online conspiracy theorists to inundate local elections offices with public records requests that bog down officials who by law must respond to these demands.

The flow of such requests has been steady since the 2020 election and has created manpower issues for smaller counties like Nevada, Shasta and Placer counties. “The requests are growing exponentially,” Natalie Adona, Nevada County’s registrar of voters, told SF Gate recently. “There is some comfort knowing it’s not just us.”

Many requests demand the recipients maintain all records related to the 2020 election under threat of a theoretical lawsuit about election fraud. Many of the requests can be traced to QAnon influencer and alleged time-traveler (you read that right) Tore Maras, who has provided her 54,000 fans on Telegram with a template to send to election officials.

Many requesters copy/paste the template, then often forget to replace boilerplate language such as “insert county elections office here” with the name of the county. “It’s clear that requesters are using templates, and it makes you wonder if they want records, or if they are trying to bog down offices with a bunch of record requests,” Adona said.

Local elections offices have even attracted the attention of pillow mogul Mike Lindell, who featured an Ohio math teacher named Douglas Frank at his recent “Moment of Truth” summit in Missouri.

Frank claims that Placer County’s election results were fraudulent, and addressed the MAGA-dominated Shasta County Board of Supervisors on local voter fraud. As Frank told a Nebraska audience: “We need to have Nuremberg trials and we need to have firing squads” for “evil secretaries of state.”

Meanwhile, election officers in some areas are being trained to deal with the disruptions and demands expected before, during and after the mid-term elections. It looks like they’ll need it.

Silence appropriate

I’ve been critical of Sheriff Shannan Moon’s tendency to retreat from the public eye to avoid difficult questions she doesn’t want to deal with, but I’m with her when it comes to remaining silent on the death of Truckee teen Kiely Rodni.

Rodni was found dead in her car at the bottom of Prosser Creek Reservoir on Aug. 16, 10 days after she disappeared at a large party at a nearby campground. What did or didn’t happen until her body was found has fueled speculation on social media, which has been filled with unsubstantiated accusations pointed at almost everyone, including friends and family.

Before her death, Rodni attended a large teenage gathering where drugs and alcohol were reportedly available. People who attended the party were reluctant to speak to authorities about what might have happened to Kiely, prompting authorities to state they wanted information, not people to arrest.

Adventure with Purpose, a volunteer group that found Rodni’s body after authorities couldn’t, didn’t help matters with a 40-minute documentary-style YouTube video on their search and recovery.

They called her death suspicious, and included an interview with a tow-truck driver who said he helped someone matching Kiely’s description after she was reported missing. Authorities haven’t said if they have interviewed the driver.

Moon has said nothing to tamp down the speculation, saying she will wait until the toxicology and autopsy records are final around Nov. 1. Her vow of silence has attracted the attention of Google News, which posted a story from the Reno Gazette Journal under the headline: “Sheriff says ‘no comment’ as rumors swirl on Truckee teen’s death.”

Authorities are in a can’t-win situation here—if they offer an opinion on what happened, it will be treated as Gospel by the media. If they are wrong, it will just fuel more suspicion in the conspiracy-driven portion of the population, which seems to be growing daily.

There is also the Rodni family to consider. There is no greater tragedy than the loss of a child, and Kiely’s family has suffered enough without having to endure the speculation of authorities. Let’s wait until all of the facts are in.

Clarification: In my last column about high school district trustee candidates declining to appear at candidate forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters, I wrote that the league identified three candidates as Republicans.

Here’s what actually happened: YubaNet reproduced a portion of the league’s press release and inserted the political affiliations of candidates in an article that was posted Aug. 25. The league is nonpartisan and does not identify candidates by their political affiliations.

George Boardman lives in Nevada City. His column is published biweekly on Tuesdays by The Union. Write him at boredgeorgeman@gmail.com

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