The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Tag: trumpist death threats

Fearful Of Death Threats, Election Officials Resigning In Droves

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a disturbing article published on June 11, Reuters' Linda So offered in-depth reporting on all of the death threats, abuse and harassment that election workers have been suffering thanks to the Big Lie and former President Donald Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. And according to Associated Press reporter Anthony Izaguirre, many election jobs are remaining vacant.

In an article published on June 13 — only two days after the Reuters article came out — Izaguirre reports, "After facing threats and intimidation during the 2020 presidential election and its aftermath, and now the potential of new punishments in certain states, county officials who run elections are quitting or retiring early. The once-quiet job of election administration has become a political minefield thanks to the baseless claims of widespread fraud that continue to be pushed by many in the Republican Party."

According to Izaguirre, "It's difficult to quantify exactly how many election officials across the country have left their posts and why, since the departures are not generally tallied. Retirements also are common after presidential elections. But in places that do track such information, along with anecdotal accounts from county officials, it is clear that many have recently left because of the newfound partisan rancor around the jobs and the threats many local election workers faced leading up to the November election and afterward as former President Donald Trump and his allies challenged the results."

Izaguirre reports that in Pennsylvania, "about a third of Pennsylvania's county election officials have left in the last year and a half" — and in Michigan, "several seasoned election officials" have "recently left." In Wisconsin, according to Izaguirre, "more than two-dozen clerks have retired since the presidential election, and another 30 clerks or their deputies quit by the end of 2020."

"The local election jobs are being vacated as Trump's false claims of fraud persist within the GOP and provide a platform for his loyalists to launch campaigns to become top election officials in several swing states," Izaguirre notes.

Barb Byrum, clerk of Ingham County, Michigan, fears that far-right conspiracy theorists will try to take over election jobs that become vacant.

Byrum told AP, "These conspiracy theorists are in it for the long haul. They're in it to completely crumble our republic, and they're looking at these election administrator positions. They're playing the long game."

The fear of fines, according to Izaguirre, is another thing that could make election jobs "unpalatable."

"A new law in Iowa imposes a $10,000 fine on election administrators for a technical infraction of election rules," Izaguirre observes. "A similar law in Florida could lead to $25,000 fines for election supervisors if a ballot drop box is accessible outside early voting hours or is left unsupervised."

Wendy Helgeson, president of the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association, told AP, "It's hard to convince someone it's a good way to give back to the community when you're afraid of going to clerk jail. It's harder and harder to get people to work in government as a whole."

Trump Lies Spurred Wave Of Death Threats Against Georgia Official — And His Family

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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: