Nearly 80 officials overseeing elections in seven swing states are doubting the 2020 results

Reno – Washoe County, Nevada, is a battleground county in a critical battleground state and could hold the keys to congressional races and possibly the presidency. But this cycle, one of the most influential races in the state is for county commissioner.

That commissioner would exercise the casting vote on a panel that — among other responsibilities — oversees elections in Washoe. Its members appoint the county's top election official, set the budget for elections and ultimately certify statewide election results.

“It's important to realize that we are in a national election, that the national election is happening at the local level,” Democratic Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar said in an interview. “And at that local level, they can completely shut down elections for the state, for the state and for the nation.”

At a time when the electoral process has come under devastating attack from former President Donald Trump and his rambunctious MAGA supporters, control of the election has become a target of his allies in places like Washoe County, despite a continued lack of evidence of widespread voter fraud in Washoe or any other county in the US

A new CBS News investigation found that there are nearly 80 officials working in election oversight positions in seven battleground states, including Nevada, who disbelieve the 2020 election results, refuse to certify the election and publicly support actions taken against the election. January 6, 2021, US Capitol riots or pushed election conspiracies.

In Washoe, the commission's power has caught the attention of a powerful and wealthy right-wing activist named Robert Beadles, who has falsely claimed that the 2020 election was rigged. Since 2022, he has been lobbying in support of controversial voting changes introduced by other commissioners, including eliminating voting machines in favor of hand-counting paper ballots and having the National Guard at polling places — steps the ACLU has called “categorically illegal” .

Beadles, who says he made his fortune in real estate and cryptocurrency, has invested significantly in local elections for the school board, city council and state legislature. He has also spent more than $100,000 on commission races, mostly in support of two of the five current commissioners, Jeannie Herman and Michael Clark. both have pushed election conspiracies or denied that Joe Biden won the election. This cycle he wants to build a majority on the committee to promote his agenda.

“We have our two superheroes on the county commission. We have Mike Clark and Jeanne Herman.” Beadles said in a video on his Facebook. “However, those two votes are not enough. We need three.”

“If you want to save a county, you save the county commission, because they are the ones with one vote that can fix or destroy the county,” Beadles told CBS News at a local Republican event he moderated. “People look at the president and the Senate and all those types and that's great, but that one person can't necessarily make a difference. As much as one person on the county commission or city council can do, they can influence the entire board. “

In his pursuit of another vote on the county commission, Beadles has targeted fellow Republican and a current commissioner, Clara Andriola, for defeat in the upcoming June primary. Andriola has spoken out against the voting changes Beadles has proposed — which contributed to her censure by the Washoe County GOP — where Beadles serves on the executive committee. That committee too a resolution adopted in 2022 and claimed that President Biden was not legitimately elected.

“It was disappointing. It was painful … but I am a Republican, I am still a Republican and I will vote as a Republican,” Andriola said of the censure. When asked how she thinks the election is going in Washoe, Andriola told CBS News. “I think the elections went as well as possible.”

But for Beadles, Andriola isn't Republican enough. Instead, he is backing several other Republican candidates, including Andriola's main opponent, Republican Tracey Hilton-Thomas. In an interview with CBS, Hilton-Thomas said during a campaign stop that she is working closely with Beadles and the current Republican commissioner to draft new election resolutions.

“I do believe there is interference in our elections,” Hilton-Thomas said. When asked if she believed the results of the 2020 election, she said: “I would have to say at this point, no, I don't believe the results… they won't show us, they won't show us the evidence . we just have to trust their word. And I'm not one to trust the word of man.”

Beadles has continued to spread false claims of election fraud. In 2022 he has told the Washoe County Commission that “the election is rigged… it is treason, you are all committing treason.” He directed much of his anger about the election at County Registrar Deanna Spikula, who later resigned her position after facing an attack of intimidation. Beadles has denied any responsibility for the harassment of Spikula or other officials.

Beadles filed a lawsuit to try to block the The Election Worker Protection Act, which makes harassing, threatening or intimidating election workers a crime. The lawsuit has been dismissed twice in federal court, but Beadles archived another appeal earlier this month. A public affairs official with the Washoe County Commissions said there has been a 100% turnover of election officials in that office since 2020.

The Reno activist was promoted by Steve Bannonformer top adviser to Donald Trump.

“They're really afraid of Trump, but what they should be afraid of is 25 (million) to 100 million little Trump 2.0s running around the country,” Beadles said on Bannon's “War Room” podcast.

During the June 11 primary, Washoe County voters will decide whether or not to vote Andriola out. And if Beadles manages to get one more vote on the committee, his allies will be responsible for certifying elections in the future.

Aguilar, the Nevada secretary of state, says election deniers “understand the power of a county at the national level…Nevada is a battleground, we are going to be part of a small group of states that will determine the next president of the United States. And when you start breaking down the data in the information region by region, you start to recognize the power of Washoe.”

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