Election officials who’ve been targeted online and law enforcement officials are bracing for another wave of threats on Election Day and its aftermath, when new claims of election fraud are expected to lead to more violent rhetoric online.
The FBI declined to comment for this story. Last month, the agency issued a warning about the threats to election workers, and said it continues to “prioritize identifying, mitigating and investigating threats targeting election workers.” It has asked the public to submit tips related to election crimes via local field offices or its website.
Jen Easterly, director of the government’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said during a forum last week that local law enforcement also plays a critical role in securing elections. CISA spent several weeks doing nationwide trainings about how to de-escalate situations. “Securing elections is a nonpartisan activity, and there is no place for threats,” she said. “It is unacceptable.”
Election officials throughout the country, including in competitive states such as Arizona and Pennsylvania, say the threats come in waves and follow what’s happening in the news. Allie Bones, Arizona’s assistant secretary of state, said her office is expecting the week of Election Day to be “active.”
The continued harassment has contributed to high turnover among election officials across the country. According to a survey published earlier this year from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law, 1 in 5 election officials are unlikely to continue serving through 2024. Politicians’ attacks on the system, and stress, are the primary reasons they plan to leave, according to the study.