New report reveals how Trump's 2020 lies unleashed waves of threat and intimidation against election official

New report reveals how Trump's 2020 lies unleashed waves of threat and intimidation against election official
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. Credit: Gage Skidmore

After the New York Times' Maggie Haberman reported, on June 1, that former President Donald Trump believes he will be "reinstated" as president by August, many Trump critics — from liberals and progressives to Never Trump conservatives — warned that his delusions could inspire more attacks like the January 6 insurrection as well as an increase in threats against officials. The death threats, harassment and intimidation that election workers have been receiving from Trump supporters is the focus of in-depth article published by Reuters this week, and reporter Linda So shows that the abuse continues months after Trump's departure from the White House.

In her report, So emphasizes that the election workers who have suffered ongoing abuse range from high-level officials such as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a conservative Republican) to low-level and mid-level election workers. Raffensperger, following the 2020 presidential election, infuriated Trump and his allies — including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and far-right attorneys Sidney Powell and Lin Wood — by maintaining that now-President Joe Biden won Georgia fairly and that there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state as Trump claimed. And Raffensperger, along with his wife Tricia Raffensperger, have been inundated with death threats ever since

So reports that on April 5, Tricia Raffensperger received a text message saying that a family member was "going to have a very unfortunate incident" — and that message was followed by one in mid-April saying, "We plan for the death of you and your family every day." Then, on April 24,

she received a text message saying, "You and your family will be killed very slowly."

Tricia Raffensperger, who is 65, told Reuters that because of all the death threats, she decided it was no longer safe for her grandchildren to visit her home. The Georgia secretary of state's wife explained, "I couldn't have them come to my house anymore. You don't know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff."

The 66-year-old Brad Raffensperger told Reuters, "Vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone."

Georgia's secretary of state is hardly the only major election official who has been receiving death threats from Trump supporters. Others have ranged from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who is part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration, to Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs.

So explains, "Trump's relentless false claims that the vote was 'rigged' against him sparked a campaign to terrorize election officials nationwide, from senior officials such as Raffensperger to the lowest-level local election workers. The intimidation has been particularly severe in Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials refuted Trump's stolen-election claims. The ongoing harassment could have far-reaching implications for future elections by making the already difficult task of recruiting staff and poll workers much harder, election officials say."

In Georgia, So observes, the "intimidation" has "gone well beyond Raffensperger and his family." The Reuters reporter notes that in Georgia, "Election workers, from local volunteers to senior administrators, continue enduring regular harassing phone calls and e-mails, according to interviews with election workers and the Reuters review of texts, e-mails and audio files provided by Georgia officials."

Trump-inspired death threats are terrorizing election workers www.youtube.com

Richard Barron, elections director for Fulton County, Georgia, told Reuters that his predominantly African-American staff has received hundreds of threats along with racial slurs. Barron told Reuters, "The racial slurs were disturbing and sickening." And one of the targets was Ralph Jones, who is part of Barron's staff and oversaw mail-in ballot operations in Fulton County (which includes Atlanta) in 2020. Jones told Reuters, "It was unbelievable: your life being threatened just because you're doing your job."

Carlos Nelson, elections supervisor for Ware County, Georgia, believes that the United States is facing a dire situation when poll workers are fearing for their safety.

Nelson told Reuters, "These are people who work for little or no money, 12 to 14 hours a day on Election Day. If we lose good poll workers, that's when we're going to lose democracy."

After Reuters published So's article, election law expert Richard L. Hasen quoted it extensively on his Election Law Blog and described it as a "must-read."

Here are some of the many reactions to the article on Twitter:





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