Earlier this year, the entire election staff of Gillespie County, Texas — home to the small town of Fredricksburg — stepped down amid stalking and death threats, including elections administrator Anissa Herrera. According to CNN, the new election precinct judge, David Treibs, is a conspiracy theorist who believes the 2020 presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump.
However, CNN notes, while Trump's Big Lie may have accelerated the harassment and threats in Gillespie County, it was not what started GOP activists' suspicion there. After all, Trump carried the county by 59 points. In fact, their anger over election results in Gillespie County date back to a year before that.
"The story of how Gillespie County reached this point is a cautionary tale of how the 2020 election denying conspiracy theories virus keeps spreading," reported Ed Lavandera. "The election trouble dates back to 2019 when a ballot measure asked voters whether or not fluoride should be used in the city's drinking water. The anti-fluoride activist who lost questioned the integrity of the election. Between the 2020 election came along pouring gasoline on conspiracy theories. Even though Donald Trump won this county with 79 percent of the vote, some Republicans were convinced something wasn't right."
Fluoride, which is added to municipal drinking water in most communities in the United States to promote dental health, has been a common grievance of conspiracy theorists, who have made up all sorts of stories around it, some even believing it's a form of government mind control or population control. A lawsuit over the Fredricksburg fluoride result was defeated last month.
While the Trump election lies may not have been the beginning of the attacks on Gillespie, they have had an effect as well, as Lavandera saw when he interviewed Treibs.
"You believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump?" asked Lavandera. "Yes, I do," said Treibs. "Why should someone like you serve in this kind of official capacity for an election?" Lavandera pressed him. "Well, I would think I would probably be a good candidate because I'm going to be really keen looking for anything that looks wrong and my objective is integrity. Not that my guys win, but integrity," Treibs replied.