After Much Disruption, Activist Calls Off Recount Request in Nevada County

Nevada County officials are fuming over a baseless recount request that was abandoned a day before it was set to begin, costing the county precious time and resources.

The headache began last month after Natalie Adona won the race for county clerk-recorder with 68% of the vote. Adona, the assistant clerk-recorder and registrar, was up against two candidates who had publicly questioned election integrity and the voting process — a rising trend among Republicans and Trump supporters in rural areas. Both of the candidates who ran against Adona believe Trump was the rightful winner of the 2020 election.

Despite Adona’s impressive showing, a hand recount was soon requested. The request came from Coachella Valley resident Randy Economy, a right-wing talk show host who helped lead the unsuccessful recall effort against Gavin Newsom.

“We have a crisis here in this state of who’s in charge of democracy, and it ain’t the county clerks, and it’s not the local city clerks. It’s the people,” said Economy, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.  

But by Monday, Economy had changed his mind. One day before the recall was set to begin, he withdrew his request. Weeks of planning by the county, which involved multiple agencies, was all for naught.

“The purpose here was disruption, and it’s all designed to muddle trust in our office,” said sitting clerk-recorder and registrar Gregory Diaz, who is retiring.

“Now, we basically get stiffed for the prep time.” 

According to Diaz, the recount preparation cost the county about $10,000.

Political extremists have been engaged in similar kinds of disruption across the United States. By filing frivolous lawsuits or election challenges, they hope to insert doubt into the system and hinder the workings of local government. These actions are sometimes referred to as “paper terrorism” and have been used against elections offices, school boards, and other local agencies.

Economy says he called off the recount because the ballots had been “compromised.” That’s because ballots were moved by election staffers, rather than law enforcement officers as Economy would have preferred.

Adona’s win is a victory for the mainstream and a loss for the far-right, which has been making inroads in some of California’s rural counties. In an even bigger loss for the far-right movement, supervisors in Shasta County voted Tuesday to accept the results of the June 7 primary. In that election, voters rejected a slate of fringe candidates who have also openly questioned election integrity and voting machines. With the results certified, Shasta voters appear to have pushed back against a far-right takeover of county government.