Death threats reported by four secretaries of state following 2020 election

Since Donald Trump left office in 2021, four secretaries of state have revealed that they have received death threats for simply carrying out their duties, which include overseeing elections.

During his appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes condemned the death threats he has received, referring to them as acts of domestic terrorism.

“According to Mr. Fontes, threats against elections officials in the United States of America should be classified as domestic terrorism. He asserts that terrorism involves using threats or violence to achieve political objectives, which aligns with the nature of these incidents.”

Joining him on the Sunday news show were three other secretaries of state, representing Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

Mr. Fontes mentioned that he and other secretaries of state who are facing threats have been collaborating with law enforcement and the Department of Justice to raise awareness about the threats they receive. He stated that he has taken measures to go into hiding, including preparing “go bags” in case he needs to leave his home quickly. Additionally, he has been coordinating with his neighbors and family to ensure the safety of his children if he has to leave.

Michigan’s Secretary of State, Joyce Benson, expressed her concern over the threats faced by election officials, emphasizing the damaging impact they have on the democratic process.

“It’s all about instilling fear – instilling fear in us as professionals, in our local election officials, and instilling fear in voters,” she expressed.

Election officials nationwide faced a surge of threats following the 2020 election, largely fueled by Mr. Trump’s persistent claims that the election was not secure and that he should have emerged as the winner.

The January 6th, 2021 attack on the US Capitol by his supporters was ultimately fueled by Mr. Trump’s false claim that the election had been stolen.

“It’s truly terrifying when individuals arrive at your doorstep in the middle of the night wielding firearms, and you’re desperately trying to safeguard your child,” expressed Ms. Benson, recounting a harrowing experience.

According to Al Schmidt, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, the threats are aimed at not only terrifying top state officials but also local election workers.

He explained that the purpose behind these threats is to instill fear and intimidate individuals involved in the election process. The aim is to prevent them from carrying out their duties or making decisions that are crucial to our democratic system.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia, became well-known for his conversation with former President Trump in 2020. During that call, Trump implored Raffensperger to manipulate the vote count to secure a victory in the state. Since then, Raffensperger has faced numerous threats, but the ones that have deeply affected him are those targeting his wife and daughter-in-law.

Another text she received reportedly stated, “We constantly prepare for the possibility of your death and the death of your family.”

In a recent case, an individual from Ohio received a prison sentence of two and a half years for making threats against the life of an Arizona elections official during the primary and general elections in 2022.

Joshua Russell, a 46-year-old individual, expressed his disapproval towards an Arizona elections official. In his messages, he referred to them as “the enemy of the United States” and accused them of being a “traitor to this country.” These statements echoed the rhetoric often used by former President Trump.

In 2021, the Department of Justice (DOJ), under the leadership of Attorney General Merrick Garland, established the Elections Threats Task Force. This task force has been assigned the crucial responsibility of addressing and combating threats of violence targeting elections workers. Its primary objective is to ensure the safety and protection of these workers, shielding them from any form of violence or intimidation.

According to Mr. Fontes, elections in the US are secure, despite all the bluster from conservatives.

“We are committed to ensuring fair and reliable elections throughout the United States,” he stated confidently. “We meticulously verify voter registrations to ensure that only eligible individuals are included on the rolls. Our processes include thorough audits and robust checks and balances, guaranteeing the integrity of the entire system. Our unwavering dedication is to provide exceptional elections for all voters across the nation.”

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