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Election Officials Abandon Posts Amid Threats From Trump Supporters—and That's Dangerous for Democracy

Election Officials Abandon Posts Amid Threats From Trump Supporters—and That's Dangerous for Democracy
Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The period between a presidential Election Day and the inauguration of a new President is typically uneventful as the outgoing and incoming administrations prepare the transition.

Under the tenure of former President Donald Trump, that period saw rampant lies that the election was "stolen" from him, along with weeks of sham hearings, baseless lawsuits, and bumbling press conferences. The lies culminated in a deadly failed insurrection of the United States Capitol.

During this time, Trump—who still had a Twitter account—sicced his followers on ballot counting facilities and election officials who wouldn't promote his election conspiracy theories.

Poll workers received constant death threats, especially in swing states Trump lost. Georgia was a major target of these lies, and at one point an irate Gabriel Sterling—a Republican election official in the state—warned that someone would be "shot" if Trump's rhetoric continued.

But with countless Republican officials embracing Trump's election lies, concerns are growing that the public acceptance of election outcomes among the party's voters will be a thing of the past.

As a result, election officials who faced threats in the aftermath of the 2020 election are understandably hesitant to return.

A report from the Associated Press found that a third of county election officials in the swing state of Pennsylvania have left, along with dozens of others in Wisconsin and Michigan.

Some fear that officials could soon be replaced with more partisan ones. For instance, in Georgia, Republican U.S. Congressman Jody Hice—who voted to overturn the results of the presidential election on January 6—is challenging Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who faced a barrage of threats after his refusal to "find" the number of votes Trump needed to win.

The voting and elections director for pro-Democracy group Common Cause, Sylvia Albert, told AP:

"If you have an elections official who doesn't want to expand access to the ballot, who finds democracy disturbing to them, they're not going to fix problems and then they're going to multiply."

She's not alone in her concern.

They're urging Democrats to use their razor-thin congressional majority to hold off the threat.

The 2022 midterms are just over a year away.