In the combustible days and weeks following the November 2020 election, Adrian Fontes was threatened so many times he lost count. As Maricopa County recorder, Fontes oversaw the balloting in Phoenix and its sprawling suburbs, the swing portion of a swing state and one of the focal points of President Trump’s unhinged efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s victory. With tensions mounting, as armed demonstrators gathered outside his office and a SWAT team parked itself inside, Fontes packed “go bags” so his wife and children could quickly flee their home. After one death threat, the family evacuated for several days. Crazy stuff. But the menace facing Fontes and his staff was not unusual.
A new survey by the Brennan Center for Justice found 1 in 6 election officials nationwide said they have been threatened, part of a dramatic rise in tensions as voting and elections have become an increasing political flashpoint.
Fontes, a former Marine, said many election officials take the job for the same reason people enlist in the military. “It’s a calling,” he said. “It’s a duty.” Not one, however, that should carry the risk of physical danger or emotional abuse.