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Local residents echo national voter fraud claims 

Voter fraud concerns grew nationally over the weekend after the Associated Press called the Nov. 3 presidential election for Joe Biden, and President Donald Trump alleged that widespread fraud tampered with the election.

Local Facebook users shared messages congratulating President Trump for winning, posted the phrase "legal ballots matter," and shared an online petition to recount or revote the entire 2020 presidential election—it has more than 2.4 million signatures. Others like Debi Cloud shared a #StopTheSteal rally event that took place on Nov. 8 where Trump supporters were called to "circle the town" in Paso Robles, Templeton, Atascadero, Santa Margarita, Five Cities, and Nipomo.

"We need to rally together and show our support for our president, and show our God we have faith," Cloud said in her post.

click to enlarge NATIONAL MISTRUST Residents in SLO County echo national concerns of voter fraud but aren't worried about the voting process locally. - PHOTO BY JAYSON MELLOM
  • Photo By Jayson Mellom
  • NATIONAL MISTRUST Residents in SLO County echo national concerns of voter fraud but aren't worried about the voting process locally.

Concerns include many claims being pushed by President Trump and his campaign team: ballots being dumped at county clerk-recorder's offices, votes accepted after legal deadlines, voter machine glitches, and absentee ballots requested by dead people.

"Last night I was leading, often solidly, in many key states, in almost all instances democrat run & controlled. Then, one by one, they started to magically disappear as surprise ballot dumps were counted. VERY STRANGE, and the 'pollsters' got it completely & historically wrong," Trump tweeted on Nov. 4.

Fifth District SLO County Supervisor Debbie Arnold said it's only natural for passionate people to be concerned about things they really care about.

"I can just say that election integrity is important to everyone not just supporters of one particular candidate or one particular election," Arnold said. "I can tell you for certain that I support legal efforts to ensure there's no voter fraud, and that goes for any election."

The election process has changed over the years, she said. Looking back on her first election in 2007 Arnold remembers awaiting election results the same night.

"You were really watching like you would a horse race. You watch the race unfold right before your eyes, and when you went to bed at night you pretty much knew," Arnold said. "Today we don't expect that we'll know for a week or longer."

Republican Party of SLO County Chair Randall Jordan told New Times that there are 440,000 votes in question in California but none were found in San Luis Obispo County. He said he's been in touch with the Fresno County Republican Party, which is working with the Fresno County Clerk-Recorder's Office on 19,000 allegedly fraudulent votes. New Times reached out to the Fresno County Clerk-Recorder's Office but did not receive a response before press time.

Jordan said the SLO County Clerk-Recorder's Office has been very cooperative in allowing himself and other members to observe the ballot verification process.

"We have observed the signature verification, we've observed the opening of ballots, and we've observed the actual ballots themselves. I can't say that we've seen any irregularities," he said. "[SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong] runs a tight ship."

Jordan attributes the long wait for certified election results to mail-in ballots.

"That's something that we as conservatives have fought and are continuing to fight. The correct way to vote is to go to a polling place to show your I.D. and vote," he said. "That way your vote is counted, it's turned in, and you get a result quickly."

SLO County Clerk-Recorder Tommy Gong told New Times his office hasn't received any reports or concerns of voter fraud. He said every state has different laws surrounding their election processes.

"California, we've been through the gamut for this year because of COVID-19 response, and each state went through their own changes that they see fit to accommodate for it," Gong said.

There was also a shift, he said, in how residents cast their vote with 95 percent of voters returning ballots by mail and only 5 percent voting in person. The clerk's office accommodated the change by ensuring everyone received a ballot in the mail and preparing 23 election locations.

"Things really went off well without a hitch with all of the efforts that we put into it," he said. "I think it was the same way across the state, every county stepped up to the call and it did well."

When asked about the national voter fraud claims, Gong said that as successful as elections have seemed to be across the nation during the past week and even before that, "it's really unfortunate that some of these are baseless rumors."

He encourages residents to learn more about the election process, volunteer to be an observer during an election, and ask questions.

Jordan said the only true way to ensure the votes are legitimate, in his view, is to audit them. He said once the votes in question are audited, the election will have been legitimate.

"And just like we did in 2004 with Barack Obama, we never stopped fighting his policies but we didn't fight the president," Jordan said. "Conservatives and Republicans will not do to our president, whichever one is our president, what the [Democrats] did to President Trump, make his life a living heck for four years. We don't do that. That's not our style. Once this thing is certified and then audited, that's it. We're done." Δ

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