According to interviews and documentation, election officials and their families face threats such as hanging, firing squads, torture, and bomb blasts. Trump’s voter-fraud lies have generated a panic campaign that threatens the US voting system.
The wife of Georgia’s top election official received a terrifying text threat late on April 24: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”
Tricia Raffensperger, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s wife, had received another anonymous text a week before: The wife of Georgia’s top election official received a terrifying text threat late on April 24: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”
This was in response to a text message sent on April 5th. A family member was “going to suffer a very tragic incident,” the texter said.
Those communications, which have not previously been revealed, show that threats and intimidation against election officials and their families have continued months after former US President Donald Trump’s election loss. While threats against Georgia officials surfaced in the weeks following the election, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials, as well as a review of disturbing texts, voicemails, and emails received by them and their families, reveal the previously unknown breadth and severity of the menacing tactics.
Trump’s constant bogus accusations that the election was “rigged” against him spurred a nationwide campaign of terrorizing election authorities, from top authorities like Raffensperger to low-level local election workers. In Georgia, where Raffensperger and other Republican election officials denied Trump’s accusations of a stolen election, the harassment has been particularly intense. According to election officials, the continuous harassment might have far-reaching consequences for future elections, making the already challenging task of recruiting staff and poll workers much more onerous.
“I couldn’t have them come to my house anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff,” Tricia Raffensperger told Reuters.
After intruders broke into the home of the Raffenspergers’ widowed daughter-in-law in late November, the family went into hiding for nearly a week, believing the incident was staged to terrify them. According to Tricia Raffensperger and two sources with direct knowledge of the family’s trauma, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers — a far-right militia group that has supported Trump’s quest to overturn the election – were found outside the Raffenspergers’ home that evening. Neither occurrence has ever been reported before.
“Brad and I didn’t feel like we could protect ourselves,” she said, explaining the decision to flee their home.
Brad Raffensperger told Reuters in a statement that “vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone.”
Trump’s false voter-fraud claims have wreaked havoc on election officials and workers in the United Areas, particularly in hotly disputed states like Georgia, Arizona, and Michigan. Some people have been harassed at their houses or followed in their cars. Many people have been threatened with death.
Some senior officials, including Raffensperger, have publicly refused to cave to Trump’s requests to change the election outcome. At least three families, including the Raffenspergers, fled into hiding in Georgia.\
Arizona Secretary of State
a Democrat, is still receiving death threats. Jocelyn Benson, the Democratic Secretary of State who encountered armed demonstrators outside her home in December, is still receiving threats, according to her spokesman, who declined to comment.
Many others, though, were low- or mid-level personnel who were simply doing their duties when their lives were threatened. By making election workers targets of threatened or real violence, Trump’s heated rhetoric might resonate through the 2022 midterm congressional elections and the 2024 presidential election. According to David Becker, executive director of the independent Center for Election Innovation and Research, many election offices will lose key staff with years or decades of experience.
“This is deeply troubling,” Becker said.
Carlos Nelson, the elections supervisor in Ware County, Georgia, shares this apprehension. “On Election Day, these are people that work for little or no pay for 12 to 14 hours a day,” Nelson remarked. “When we lose good poll workers, that’s when we’re going lose democracy.”
The only known criminal investigation into Trump’s attempts to alter the 2020 election is in Georgia, where he is facing an investigation into potential election meddling.
Jason Miller, a spokesman for Trump, did not respond to questions regarding the continuous intimidation of election workers, including why Trump has not publicly condemned the barrage of threats issued in his name.