She was an Asian American candidate in a rural, predominantly white county who was referred to as a “carpet-bagger” in the campaign mailings of her detractors.
She was harassed by 2020 election deniers. And she had to get a restraining order after anti-maskers forced their way into her workplace.
And on election night, Natalie Adona won her race for Nevada County Clerk-Recorder and Registrar of Electors in a landslide. She had won 70% of the vote on Thursday.
“It’s a relief because I felt like I was put to the test,” Adona said.
Like a growing number of small local races, the unusually vicious election in this Sierra Nevada county was beset by all the evils of American politics today: conspiracy theories, electoral denial, bitter partisanship and rage against COVID-19 pandemic policies.
Ever since former President Trump lost the 2020 election and falsely claimed it was stolen from him, local election offices have become front lines of rabid distrust in the voting process that he fomented. Election workers across the country have faced such a constant barrage of harassment and threats that they are quitting en masse across the country.
Adona said that in her new role as local elections chief, she will have to work hard to combat the kind of misinformation and suspicion that has fueled the vitriol she has faced. She is currently assistant clerk-archivist and will replace her boss, Gregory Diaz, who is retiring.
Adona ran against Paul Gilbert, a self-proclaimed “citizen auditor” who said he personally inspected 2020 local election results and voter rolls. He said he found outdated voter rolls that included deceased people and evidence of fraud – county claims deny.
Gilbert told The Times that he doubted the results of the 2020 presidential election because Trump had bigger campaign rallies than President Biden, and that he thought election officials should be allowed to open and inspect voting machines because they might have cell phone modems hidden inside that collect information for nefarious actors.
Gilbert had 8% of the vote on Thursday.
Jason Tedder, a Navy veteran endorsed by the local GOP, got 22 percent of the vote. He did not respond to requests for comment.
He too has publicly questioned the integrity of local electoral processes.
On his siteTedder said that if elected, he would have required two workers and a sheriff’s deputy to be present whenever ballots were collected from drop-off locations. The ballots, he said, would be placed in the MP’s vehicle to be taken to the elections office, and they would be “tracked in real time using the GPS already installed on the patrol car”, which had to be followed by the electoral agents.
Despite complaints about “election integrity” and a lack of transparency from opponents of Adona, Tuesday night was quiet at the election office. Adona said she saw a citizen observer that evening.
A Times reporter checked the YouTube live feed from four cameras in the county elections office several times during election night and was the only person watching.
Nevada County Supervisor Heidi Hall said this week’s results show local voters are fed up with conspiracy and anti-government policies.
“I’m grateful that people saw the urgency and went to the polls,” Hall said. “It speaks to this community as a strong, rational and educated county.
“We have a small group of angry extremists. … The majority is not interested in these extreme ideas or policies.”
Last week, a recall effort against the five Nevada County supervisors for alleged ‘crimes against humanity’ and enforcing pandemic restrictions failed when supporters missed their deadline to submit signatures to force a special election.
In January, when a statewide indoor mask mandate was in effect, a group of recall supporters showed up at the county elections office, where Adona worked, to check on the status of their petition.
They refused to wear masks and a woman pushed a county employee as she and two others pushed their way into the locked office. A judge later issued a restraining order against him.
One of the recall effort’s most vocal supporters, Calvin Clark, ended up running for a seat on the board of supervisors against incumbent Susan Hoek.
Clark got just 16% of the vote on Thursday. Hoek got 84%.
Neither could be reached for comment.
Hall said that despite two years of harassment and threats during the pandemic, she wasn’t overly concerned about the recall effort led by Clark.
“It’s just such a vocal minority,” she said. “It’s performative politics.”
Los Angeles Times