Intimidation of voters, threats of election workers are part of the voting climate ahead of the mid-term elections
In the wake of the 2020 election, state and local election officials have faced a wave of threats and misinformation, leading to mass resignations among their ranks — and fueling fears among some experts that their removals will put partisan loyalty above free and fair election administration .
In the weeks and months after the 2020 vote. was discovered by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law that one third of election workers said they felt insecure about their jobs. Almost one-fifth of respondents cited threats to their lives as a work-related concern.
ABC News reports in June 2021 that dozens of election administrators at the state and local levels have resigned their posts at an alarming rate in places like South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona. In August, ABC News reports that persistent threats and misinformation have caused a “second wave” of resignations in at least nine states.
Threats to election workers
In Georgia, two election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, were forced into hiding after Rudy Giuliani and the conservative media accused the mother-daughter duo of conspiring to commit election fraud. Two testified about their experience before the commission from January 6.
Stephen Richer, Republican Chief Election Officer in Maricopa County, Arizona, faced the attack death threats after overseeing a controversial audit of the 2020 election, which forced him to stop attending political events out of fear for his safety.
In response to a wave of threats targeting election workers, the Justice Department launched a task force focused on these complaints — but the results have been dismal, state and local officials said. In August, the task force said it had reviewed “over 1,000” threat reports — though only 11% passed the threshold for federal criminal investigation. Seven cases were charged – one of which was convicted and sentenced to 18 months in prison in October.
The Office of the Secretary of State of Georgia launched a Text message notification tool for election workers to report threats or security issues.
With a large number of election officials leaving their posts, democracy experts fear that their departure will leave a gap in “institutional knowledge” about election administration, and their replacements may have partisan motives.
Really, like ABC News reported in January, many Republican efforts to recruit new pollsters have taken on a partisan bent. Recently, ABC News reported that they have allies of former President Donald Trump used false election claims to recruit ex-servicemen as interviewers.
Electronic voting machines have become the target of many lies and debunked conspiracy theories after 2022, with Republican activists falsely claiming that certain devices were somehow manipulated to shift votes from Trump to President Joe Biden, among others.
Dominion Voting Systems, one of the nation’s largest suppliers of voting machines, filed multiple lawsuits against conservative news outlets and Trump allies for publishing “weird” conspiracy theories involving his product.
Tina Peters, the county recorder in Mesa County, Colorado, was indicted in May 2021 on charges related to a security breach in her office. Peters, a Trump supporter and election denier, allegedly allowed an unauthorized person to obtain voting machine records and a forensic copy of her hard drive. The documents later surfaced online. Peters has pleaded not guilty.
Concerns about voting software and hardware will again be in the spotlight in 2022, with the Ballotwatch team looking for both unsubstantiated claims and legitimate vulnerabilities in election infrastructure.
Nevada Secretary of State, Republican Barbara Cegavske, recently approved the proposal to allow counties to manually count votes this fall after Nye County, based on unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, decided earlier this year to abandon the Dominion voting machines it had relied on for years.
Access to voting
Long lines and access to polling stations have long plagued democracy advocates – and 2022 is unlikely to be any different. Republican-led state legislatures have passed dozens of bills limiting access to voting since 2020, including many that would have repealed 2020 exemptions for the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since the start of 2021, lawmakers have passed at least 42 restrictive voting laws in 21 states, according to the Brennan Center. Among those laws, 33 contain at least one restrictive provision that is in effect for midterms in 20 states.
ABC News recently reported that the proclamation threats related to elections has prompted some schools and churches to question whether it’s safe to continue serving as polling places, raising concerns among some election officials that voters could face more difficulty voting in November and beyond.
Voter intimidation and poll watchers
Partisan election observers representing both Republicans and Democrats have watched elections for decades. But in the run-up to the 2020 election, former President Trump’s allies have sought to weaponize these actors for their own political gain, engaging in behavior that some democracy advocates say amounts to voter intimidation.
Ahead of midterms, it seems more of the same are in the works.
In Arizona, for example more cases of alleged voter intimidation at the locations of the lecturers have already been sent to the Ministry of Justice. The complaints described individuals hanging around drop-off locations, filming and photographing voters as they return their ballots and, in some cases, photographing voters’ license plates.
On Tuesday, the feds issued a temporary restraining order barring some people accused of voter intimidation from gathering near ballot boxes and monitoring voters, ruling that observers must stay at least 75 feet from the ballot boxes and banning open carry and body armor within 250 feet. .
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