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 been receiving death threats for simply carrying out their duties, particularly in overseeing elections.

During his appearance on the “Meet the Press” show on Sunday, Adrian Fontes, the Secretary of State of Arizona, described the death threats he has received as a form of domestic terrorism.

According to Mr. Fontes, threats against elections officials in the United States of America should be considered as domestic terrorism. He defines terrorism as any act of threat or violence aimed at achieving a political outcome. In his view, the threats faced by elections officials fall under this definition.

Four secretaries of state, hailing from Michigan, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and the protagonist himself, gathered on the Sunday news show.

According to Mr. Fontes, 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 dangers they encounter. He has taken precautions and made necessary preparations, including creating “go bags” in case he needs to go into hiding and arranging with neighbors and family members to take care of his children if he has to leave.

According to Joyce Benson, Michigan’s Secretary of State, the threats targeting election officials have a clear intention: to undermine and discredit the very essence of democracy.

She emphasized that the goal is to instill fear among professionals, local election officials, and voters.

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.

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The US Capitol was attacked by supporters of Mr. Trump on January 6th, 2021, after he falsely claimed that the election had been stolen.

“It is an incredibly frightening experience when individuals arrive at your doorstep in the dead of night, armed with guns, while you are inside your home, desperately trying to safeguard your child,” expressed Ms. Benson with a palpable sense of fear and urgency.

Al Schmidt, the Pennsylvania Secretary of State, stated that the threats aim to not only instill fear in high-ranking state officials but also intimidate local election workers.

According to the speaker, the purpose behind these threats is to instill fear, intimidate, and deter both election officials at the county and precinct levels. The intention is to manipulate their actions or inaction, which is a crucial responsibility in upholding the fundamental principles of our government system.

Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia who gained notoriety for his conversation with Mr. Trump in 2020, during which the former president implored him to manipulate the vote count, revealed that he has also been the target of threats. However, the threats that have affected him the most are the ones directed towards his wife and daughter-in-law.

In November 2021, she and her family were forced to go into hiding for almost a week following a break-in at a relative’s house. Coincidentally, on that very night, a gathering of Oathkeepers, a right-wing extremist group whose leader had been charged with seditious conspiracy in connection with the Capitol riot, was discovered outside the Raffenspergers’ residence.

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In a recent incident, an Ohio man was convicted and sentenced to a prison term of two and a half years for making life-threatening remarks towards an Arizona elections official during the 2022 primary and general elections.

Joshua Russell, a 46-year-old individual, took it upon himself to send messages to an Arizona elections official. In these messages, he referred to the official as “the enemy of the United States,” a phrase reminiscent of the rhetoric used by Mr. Trump. Furthermore, Russell accused the official of being a “traitor to this country.”

In 2021, the Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Merrick Garland, established the Elections Threats Task Force. This task force has the important responsibility of addressing and combating threats of violence against elections workers, ensuring their safety and protection from intimidation.

According to Mr. Fontes, despite the loud and confident claims made by conservatives, elections in the US remain secure.

According to him, “We are committed to conducting fair and reliable elections throughout the United States. We thoroughly verify voter registration rolls to ensure that only eligible individuals are included. We conduct audits and have established checks and balances at every stage of the process, right up until the end. Our goal is to consistently deliver high-quality elections for all voters nationwide.”

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