A 64-year-old Iowa man was arrested this month for threatening to kill election officials in Arizona’s Maricopa County, an area at the center of the 2020 election recount where former President Trump lost by about 10,000 votes. “When we come to lynch your stupid lying Commie [expletive], you’ll remember that you lied on the [expletive] Bible, you piece of [expletive]. You’re gonna die, you piece of [expletive]. We’re going to hang you. We’re going to hang you,” the man allegedly said in a voicemail left for Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich last year That is just one example of the rising number of violent threats election workers leading up to the Nov. 8 midterms, reports CNBC. The Department of Justice and other law enforcement agencies are cracking down on an escalation of threats ahead of an election that could flip the congressional balance of power.
“Threats to election workers not only threaten the safety of the individuals concerned, but also jeopardize the stability of the U.S. electoral process,” the FBI said in a public service announcement this month. DOJ has fielded an increasing number of reports of threatening voicemails, online messages and even in-person encounters since the 2020 election. “These threats against election officials continue,” said Michael McDonald, a professor of political science at the University of Florida and author of “From Pandemic to Insurrection: Voting in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election.” “It’s straining and stressing election officials. And in some cases, they are opting to retire from running elections.” This month, DOJ Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite Jr., head of the criminal division, briefed election officials and workers on federal government grants available under the 2002 Help America Vote Act to bolster physical security at election locations. The act authorized an additional $75 million for security this year — up from $425 million in 2020. Additional funding from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan can also be used to protect election workers.