Election officials face threats in five swing states: report

Election officials in several key battleground states that decided the presidential election are facing violent threats as a result of disinformation about their states, according to a PBS Frontline investigation.

Election agencies or law enforcement organizations in five states, Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania, have witnessed threats or “acute security risks” to officials charged with counting ballots or certifying state election results, PBS reported.

Numerous states have been the site of protests against election officials in recent days following the results of the presidential election.

“What we’re seeing this year — more than we have historically — is we have, thus far, baseless accusations of fraud and an unwillingness to acknowledge the results as being what they are,” Benjamin Hovland, chair of the federal Election Assistance Commission told PBS. “You’re seeing that spin out on social media, in particular. You’re seeing it be amplified and various pieces of mis- or disinformation being thrown in — various conspiracy theories about the election administration process.”

“I’ve heard from election officials that they’re concerned about the safety of their staff,” he continued. “The foundation of our country and our democracy is trusting in the vote. When you see people lose faith in that, when you see people lose trust in that, it’s concerning.”

In Pennsylvania, threats to election officials have led to at least two arrests so far: The FBI arrested two Virginia men on firearms charges after receiving threats to “straighten things out,” the Philadelphia Inquirer first reported.

“It’s on a different level,” Lawrence Norden, director of the Election Reform Program with the Brennan Center for Justice, told PBS “Frontline.” “There’s no question in my mind that this is unprecedented in the personal attacks on election officials.”

President Trump has refused to concede the election despite vote totals showing him trailing President-elect Joe Biden by tens of thousands of votes in key states. Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, well over the 270 threshold needed to win.

Trump’s campaign has launched legal challenges demanding recounts, while the president has made unsubstantiated claims of widespread voter fraud. His legal challenges have yet to gain traction.

Despite the protests and threats to election officials, several states, including Michigan, look to be ready to certify their results at a state level in the coming days, while officials in Georgia are expected to conclude a hand recount process on Thursday.

Tags 2020 election Donald Trump Joe Biden voter fraud
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