Justice Department details threats against election workers

  • Kenneth Polite, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department Criminal Division, left, and Kim Wyman, senior election security advisor with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, appear before the Senate Judiciary Committee as it hears from state election officials and Justice Department officials about the rise in threats toward elected leaders and candidates, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The U.S. Justice Department has charged five people for making threats of violence against election workers amid a rising wave of harassment and intimidation tied to the 2020 presidential election, a top official told U.S. senators Wednesday.

Assistant Attorney General Kenneth Polite said one charge has led to a conviction so far through a task force launched last year as reports of threats to election officials, workers and volunteers raised concerns about safety and the security of future elections.

ADVERTISING


Overall, the department has investigated more than 1,000 harassing and threatening messages directed at election workers. Roughly 100 of those have risen to the level of potential prosecution. Polite estimated at least three more people have been charged for such threats at the state level.

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, said that those numbers likely do not account for countless more incidents nationwide, including election workers accosted on the street, that are not referred to federal prosecutors.

“We have thousands and thousands of election workers all throughout our country, and yes there has been a rise in all kinds of threats,” Hirono said. “So the thousand referrals sounds like a very small number.”

Polite said the department has tried to encourage election staff to come forward with any kind of harassing or offensive communication.

Polite said prosecutors have had to balance safeguarding free speech rights with the onslaught of troubling phone calls, emails and social media posts targeting election workers. The intimidation efforts have especially targeted election officials in the battleground states where Donald Trump contested his loss to President Joe Biden.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email hawaiiwarriorworld@staradvertiser.com.