[guest post by Dana]
At the end of November 2020, I wrote about the death threats that Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his wife Tricia received after certifying an election win for Joe Biden. Reuters has released a damning report that includes specific threats that the family received on the heels of Trump’s election loss. These are nothing less than terrifying:
Late on the night of April 24, the wife of Georgia’s top election official got a chilling text message: “You and your family will be killed very slowly.”
A week earlier, Tricia Raffensperger, wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, had received another anonymous text: “We plan for the death of you and your family every day.”
That followed an April 5 text warning. A family member, the texter told her, was “going to have a very unfortunate incident.”
Those messages, which have not been previously reported, illustrate the continuing barrage of threats and intimidation against election officials and their families months after former U.S. President Donald Trump’s November election defeat. While reports of threats against Georgia officials emerged in the heated weeks after the voting, Reuters interviews with more than a dozen election workers and top officials – and a review of disturbing texts, voicemails and emails that they and their families received – reveal the previously hidden breadth and severity of the menacing tactics.
In an exclusive interview, Tricia Raffensperger spoke publicly for the first time about the threats of violence to her family and shared the menacing text messages with Reuters.
The Raffenspergers – Tricia, 65, and Brad, 66 – began receiving death threats almost immediately after Trump’s surprise loss in Georgia, long a Republican bastion. Tricia Raffensperger started taking precautions. She canceled regular weekly visits in her home with two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5 – the children of her eldest son, Brenton, who died from a drug overdose in 2018.
“I couldn’t have them come to my house anymore,” she said. “You don’t know if these people are actually going to act on this stuff.”
In late November, the family went into hiding for nearly a week after intruders broke into the home of the Raffenspergers’ widowed daughter-in-law, an incident the family believed was intended to intimidate them. That evening, people who identified themselves to police as Oath Keepers – a far-right militia group that has supported Trump’s bid to overturn the election – were found outside the Raffenspergers’ home, according to Tricia Raffensperger and two sources with direct knowledge of the family’s ordeal. Neither incident has been previously reported.
“Brad and I didn’t feel like we could protect ourselves,” she said, explaining the decision to flee their home.
Brad Raffensperger told Reuters in a statement that “vitriol and threats are an unfortunate, but expected, part of public service. But my family should be left alone.”
Clearly, it wasn’t just the Raffenspergers who were targeted after the election:
In Georgia, people went into hiding in at least three cases, including the Raffenspergers. Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat, told Reuters she continues to receive death threats. Michigan’s Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson – a Democrat who faced armed protesters outside her home in December – is also still getting threats, her spokesperson said, declining to elaborate.
But many others whose lives have been threatened were low- or mid-level workers, just doing their jobs…
The intimidation in Georgia has gone well beyond Raffensperger and his family. Election workers – from local volunteers to senior administrators – continue enduring regular harassing phone calls and emails, according to interviews with election workers and the Reuters review of texts, emails and audio files provided by Georgia officials.
One email, sent on Jan. 2 to officials in nearly a dozen counties, threatened to bomb polling sites: “No one at these places will be spared unless and until Trump is guaranteed to be POTUS again.”
Moreover, Fulton County’s elections director, Richard Barron, whose staff is predominantly Black, said that there was any number of ugly racial slurs directed at workers:
Among those targeted was Barron’s registration chief, Ralph Jones, 56, who oversaw the county’s mail-in ballot operation and has worked on Georgia elections for more than three decades, including senior roles.
Jones said callers left him death threats, including one shortly after the November election who called him a “n—–” who should be shot. Another threatened to kill him by dragging his body around with a truck. “It was unbelievable: your life being threatened just because you’re doing your job,” he said.
And Barron, who is White, also received ugly death threats:
At a Dec. 5 rally – ahead of a runoff election in Georgia that would determine control of the U.S. Senate – Trump showed a video clip of Barron and accused him and his staff of committing a “crime,” alleging they tampered with ballots. After the rally, Barron was bombarded with threats. “I underestimated how hard he was going to push that narrative and just keep pushing it,” Barron said of Trump.
Between Christmas and early January, Barron received nearly 150 hateful calls, many accusing him of treason or saying he should die, according to Barron and a Reuters review of some of the phone messages.
“You actually deserve to hang by your goddamn, soy boy, skinny-ass neck,” said a woman in one voicemail, using a slang term for an effeminate man.
And so it goes.
You ask why this matters now? Because the same individual that ratcheted up the anger and fury with outrageous lies about a stolen election appears to be the Republican Party’s current presumptive nominee for 2024:
A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that two-thirds of Republican voters (66 percent) said they would like Trump to run for the presidency in 2024, while only 30 percent were opposed to the idea…
“The numbers fly in the face of any predictions that Donald Trump’s political future is in decline,” the Quinnipiac poll analyst Tim Malloy said in a statement. “By a substantial majority, Republicans: (1) believe the election was stolen from him, (2) want Trump to run again, and (3), if they can’t vote for Trump, prefer someone who agrees with him.”
Two-thirds of Republicans said they believed President Joe Biden’s election victory was illegitimate, and only a quarter told pollsters they believed his win was legitimate.
Asked for their opinion on Trump, most GOP voters (84 percent) said they had a favorable view of him, and a marginal 13 percent had an unfavorable view of their ex-party leader.
And if anything, today’s Retrumplican Party has made loyalty to Trump a litmus test of worth and viability within the Party, as well as becoming their brand. If another post mentioning the outrageous corruption and lies of Trump and the illegal behavior of his loyal fanatics bother you, turning that annoyance toward the real root of the problem would be more appropriate.
Exit question: If Trump runs in 2024 and loses, tell me why you don’t think a repeat of his 2020 election loss insanity wouldn’t be repeated? We know that he hasn’t changed, and apparently his followers haven’t changed either (given the polling), so what would make another election loss any different?