As Donald Trump and his associates scrambled to overturn the 2020 election, they accused ordinary election workers throughout the United States of engaging in an unprecedented conspiracy to hand the presidency to Joe Biden. For many election administrators, workers, and officials, life became nightmarish. Pro-Trump media outlets (and in some cases Trump lawyers) doxxed them for doing their jobs, leading Trump supporters to inundate them and their family members with death and rape threats. Conspiracy theorists online called for their execution. One Georgia election worker told NPR that two strangers had attempted to force their way into her grandmother’s house—where she used to live—and make a “citizen’s arrest.
A new survey released by the Brennan Center for Justice, a liberal-leaning nonprofit that supports voting rights, suggests that the toxic environment has persisted past Biden’s inauguration and that it’s taking a toll.
One in five election workers reported that they’re “very” or “somewhat” unlikely to stay in their positions before 2024, citing politicians’ attacks on the election administration system as one of the key reasons why. In addition, the number of local election officials worried about interference by political leaders has increased threefold since before the 2020 election.
The survey, which included data from 596 interviews with election workers throughout the country and across the political spectrum, indicated that more than half of the threats to election workers weren’t reported to law enforcement. One in six workers said that they had personally experienced threats, and nearly 8 in 10 of them said that threats against them were on the rise. However, few of the perpetrators have faced any consequences for their actions.
Last year, the Department of Justice formed a new task force to investigate threats against election workers. The task force made its first arrest in January 2022 after a man posted on Craigslist calling for “Georgia Patriots” to assassinate several election officials.