Georgia poll workers can text 5-digit code to report threats

Georgia Senate Runoff

(NewsNation) — Multiple states are experiencing a poll worker shortage, and many attribute their exit to an uptick in political violence. With early voting underway in Georgia, the state is introducing a new tool to help protect them.

Georgia was, for a time, at the center of former President Donald Trump’s false election fraud claims. At a hearing in June, one Georgia election worker told the committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol that she and her mother were targets of racist death threats and struggled to live normal lives. Those threats, she said, came after Trump and his campaign falsely accused them by name of committing fraud during the 2020 election.

In a call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger shortly after the election, Trump mentioned that election worker by name 18 times, accusing her of election fraud.

Now, poll workers in every precinct can text a five-digit number to report alarming activity through a new alert system.

The data will be sent to county election officers and a command center, where law enforcement and other officials will gather that information on election day, said Harold Love, a retired Michigan State Police Officer and a member of the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections. The committee enforces election laws and policies which protect election workers and voters from violence, threats and intimidation.

“With the text, it’s having information that’s going to a central location that can be vetted and then pushed out to the appropriate authorities to deal with whatever is happening at the poll sites with with the election official,” Love said.

The public is less likely to trust the outcome of an election if their preferred candidate loses, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.

Election laws vary by state and response times to reports through the service will vary by municipality, Love said, adding that voters should also be aware of their rights. Potential violations of those rights could include intimidation or hindering a qualified voter from entering a polling place, he said.

“(Voters) should know that they have the right to vote, their right to free speech, of course within the boundaries that have been set by their local laws, and that if they are intimidated or someone is trying to force them to do something,…they have the right to make a complaint and that complaint should be investigated or at least tended to by local law enforcement,” Love said.

Election officials can also report received threats to their local FBI Election Crimes Coordinator, according to the U.S Election Assistance Commission.

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