Federal officials target midterm election security

Arizona 2022 midterm election

(NewsNation) — One factor weighing on the minds of voters, perhaps heavier than the issues they’re most passionate about, may be election security.

The aftermath of the 2020 elections coupled with reports of an increased threat of harm to poll workers and voter intimidation have forced the feds to create an election security umbrella that never existed before.

As the 2022 midterms quickly approach, election security is also on the minds of federal officials.

Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Neal Kelley, the chairman for safe and secure elections, made it clear that law enforcement must do more to mitigate the threats posed to voters, election workers and the elections themselves.

“These are just a small example of the types of threats and harassment election officials around the country have experience, including myself,” Kelley said.

The FBI issued this warning: “Threats to election workers not only threaten the safety of the individuals concerned but also jeopardize the stability of the U.S. electoral process.”

Their message, however, may be falling on deaf ears.

In Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, records collected by law enforcement show election workers have received more than 100 violent threats between July 11 and Aug. 22, which included threats to share personal info, targeted on social media and harassing emails.

“You will be executed,” read one threat. “Wire around their limbs and tied and dragged by a car.”

The majority of threats cited debunked claims about voter fraud. Maricopa County officials say some threats have led to investigations and the senders could face prison time.

Maricopa County, which has more than 4 million residents and includes Phoenix, was an epicenter of election fraud allegations in the 2020 cycle – which led to a controversial audit by the state Senate.

Officials have also received complaints about voter intimidation.

Leading up to Tuesday’s midterm, uniformed vigilantes appeared outside voter drop boxes in Maricopa County. A judge later banned the group from being within 200 feet of a polling place. Early voting in Arizona began on Oct. 12, with more than 3 million residents eligible.

Sunday, Arizona Republican gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake was forced to close her campaign office after receiving an envelope with a “suspicious white powder.”

The Lake campaign made it clear they will not be intimidated, in a statement that read in part: “We look forward to law enforcement completing their investigation as quickly as possible. We continue to push full speed ahead to win this election on Tuesday.”

The campaign staffer who opened the envelope is now under medical supervision. The FBI is leading the investigation into the incident.

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