After sore loser Donald Trump attacked our elections because he couldn’t take his loss like a grownup, election officials received a terrifying and unprecedented series of threats.
From VICE News:
VICE News spoke with over a dozen election officials who had experienced death threats and felt endangered during the 2020 election period. Officials across the United States experienced physical stalking, explicitly violent phone calls, racial slurs, home surveillance, bomb scares, and threats of mass shootings. For some officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania, the threats have continued for nearly a year. And now, many of these officials want to quit.
The stories of these officials represent a small proportion of the number of threats made in this election cycle, though the total number is unknown because many of the threats went unrecorded and unanswered by law enforcement, Reuters reported. However, in a survey published in June by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice, one-third of election workers report feeling unsafe.
In election hotspots like Georgia, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, many of these threats came directly after Trump mentioned election workers (like [Richard] Barron) at events and in tweets.
Richard Barron, mentioned in the quote above, is elections director of Fulton County, Geogia, which includes Atlanta. In the VICE video, above, he plays one of the nearly 150 voicemails he received just in the week between Christmas and New Year’s.
VICE noted that the voicemails started after Trump targeted Barron and played a video of him during a December 5th rally in Valdosta, Georgia. Barron’s mostly African American staff also received calls, often with racial slurs.
Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, was also targeted by Trump. In the video, Schmidt told of threats that included photos of his home and the names of his children. “We now had 24-hour police protection, undercover, outside of our home or wherever my family was,” he said.
And then there are state laws that criminalize election officials if they make a mistake. VICE reports that five states (so far) have enacted such laws: Iowa, Florida, Texas, Arizona, and Alabama.
The result is that election officials are leaving their jobs. The AP reported a spate of openings in Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Deidre Holden, Director, Paulding County [Georgia] Elections, is seen in the video saying, “a lot of good people inelections throughout the state” left their jobs “because theywere afraid, they were worn out.”
Who will replace these people? Barron said, “If too many people with institutional knowledge leave, that is actually, probably more of a threat to election integrity than the few people out there that may try to commit election fraud.” Fortunately, he has decided to stay in his job. But Schmidt, from Philadelphia has decided to leave when his term is up. He says he had made that decision before “any of this” but the threats have confirmed he made the right choice.
Schmidt called it “dangerous” to be losing so many election officials. “You can probably name them, the half a dozen or dozen or two dozen people across the country who, if they hadn't done their jobs, this whole thing of ours, this whole system of government, could have fallen apart.” He told VICE.