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Trump-inspired death threats terrorize election workers

TELEPHONE CALL AUDIO: “If you’ve got a hand in this, you deserve to go to jail. You actually deserve to be hanged by your fucking soy boy, skinny neck.” In the days and months following the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Fulton County Chief Electoral Officer Richard Barron received hundreds of harassing messages. AUDIO PHONE CALL: “You are an impostor. You should just go to China because that’s where you belong, to Communist China because you’re a crook. His staff in Atlanta, Georgia – made up almost entirely of black election workers – have also been targeted. RICHARD BARRON, CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER FOR FULTON COUNTY: “The insults were disturbing, sickening”… “Staff started getting all kinds of calls, threatening that people would come and kill everyone in their desks or in their chairs. For election administrators senior to local volunteers, Trump’s baseless allegations of electoral fraud have had far-reaching consequences in disputed states from Georgia to Arizona to Michigan. Officials and others who organized elections or refuted voter fraudulent lies continue to be targeted. Some have faced protests at their homes. Many have received death threats. In Georgia – where Trump is under criminal investigation for alleged election interference – the fallout has been particularly severe. GABRIEL STERLING, ELECTIONS MANAGER IN GEORGIA: “I am concerned about the future elections. Gabriel Sterling, a senior Georgia election official who gained national attention in December when he denounced Trump’s fraud allegations as dangerous, says he is still harassed and threatened. GABRIEL STERLING, ELECTIONS MANAGER IN GEORGIA: “At the beginning of May, I still received a phone call at 2:36 am telling me that I was going to jail. So this thing continued and it continued for all of us. Sterling’s boss, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and his family have also been targeted. In April, Raffensperger’s wife, Tricia, received a scary text message that read, “You and your family will be killed very slowly. A week earlier, another anonymous text read, “We anticipate your death and that of your family every day.” “In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Tricia Raffensperger detailed the threats to her family since the election. In a previously unreported incident, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers – a militia from extreme right-wingers involved in the deadly U.S. Capitol riot on January 6 – were found outside Raffensperger’s home, forcing him and his whole family into hiding. Trump’s defeat to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia during last year’s presidential election marked a dramatic political change in the historically Republican state. Its defeat left many party members in disbelief and Trump lashed out at election officials claiming they rigged the results. No significant fraud was discovered in Georgia or elsewhere in the US FORMER US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “There’s no way we will ever lose. say Georgia, it is impossible. His false statements sparked a torrent of hatred and harassment against election workers. FORMER US PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “You look at what is going to come out. Look what is going to be revealed.” Fulton County Prosecutor Fani Willis is currently investigating the former president for potential interference and said in a February letter his office would investigate “any involvement in violence or threats.” A Trump spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment, but previously called the investigation a “witch hunt.” Criminal law scholars say threats against election officials could increase legal danger to Trump. Clark Cunningham, professor of law at Georgia State University. CLARK CUNNINGHAM, PROFESSOR OF LAW, STATE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA: “The statement in her letter suggests that one of the things she may consider is whether Mr. Trump or others acting with him encouraged or actually solicited the provocation of death threats against election officials in Georgia. “In April, two investigators from Willis’ office met with Fulton County Electoral Officer Richard Barron. Time, which was not previously reported, investigators sought information on threats against Barron and his staff. Willis’ office did not respond to a request for comment. Election officials fear fallout from the Trump’s false and inflammatory rhetoric won’t spill over into future elections by making it harder to hire or retain people in public service jobs that make them targets of v iolence. RICHARD BARRON, CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER OF FULTON COUNTY: “You have a lot of good public servants who have just left … never seen an exodus like this before.”

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