The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office has received threats against its elections team, with messages from an unnamed individual saying workers who oversaw the 2020 election process should be executed by firing squad.
Election officials across the country, including in key battleground states like Georgia, have also received death threats as President Donald Trump continues to allege widespread voter fraud and a rigged process that resulted in his overwhelming defeat by President-elect Joe Biden.
State and national election officials have found no fraud, and courts have rejected virtually all of Trump’s challenges.
The threat against the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office occurred Dec. 1, the same day that a top election official in Georgia chastised Trump for questioning the integrity of that state’s election results and creating an environment in which people feel emboldened to harass and threaten the officials who oversee the vote totals.
“Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed,” Gabriel Sterling, the voting system implementation manager in Georgia who identifies as a conservative, said during a press conference.
Sterling said the situation has clearly gotten out of hand when the rank and file of the elections department are receiving death threats. Sterling used the example of a young technician working in Georgia who has been threatened online, with videos allegedly showing him changing numbers as part of the recount. Sterling said the 20-year-old contractor was merely transferring a report on batches from an election management system to a county computer so he could read it.
“His family is getting harassed now. There’s a noose out there with his name on it. And it’s not right,” Sterling said. “I’ve got police protection outside my house. Fine. You know, I took a higher-profile job. I get it, the secretary ran for office; his wife knew that, too. This kid took a job. He just took a job, and it’s just wrong.”
The president and his lawyers have maintained they are fighting to make sure only legal votes are counted, though Trump has repeatedly alleged without evidence that widespread fraud cost him the election.
The Vermont secretary of state’s Twitter account shared a video of Sterling’s remarks , writing that the president should stop spreading “unfounded accusations.” In the same message, the Secretary of State’s Office said it had received voicemail threatening the lives of staff members.
In an interview Dec. 2, Secretary of State Jim Condos said his office has been receiving concerning messages since the Nov. 3 election but the threat of violence from an unnamed individual on Dec. 1, marked an escalation in rhetoric.
Condos declined to say much about the incident other than it has been reported to the Vermont State Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is now being looked into.
“I can tell you that one of the things they said was along the lines that ‘there’s a reason why Attorney General (William) Barr is putting firing squads and poison gas as a method of capital punishment,’” Condos said.
Threatening voicemails were found on the phone of the office’s receptionist and on the phone of Eric Covey, Condos’ chief of staff.
While critics say Trump’s refusal to concede the presidential election is hurting the country, the president has doubled down on allegations of widespread voter fraud during the election, even as Barr told the Associated Press that the U.S. Justice Department has uncovered no evidence of voter fraud that could change the election outcome.
Condos, former president of the National Association of Secretaries of State, said he has spoken recently with counterparts in Colorado, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania to give them his support and offer any guidance that he can.
Condos said Trump’s questioning of the election’s integrity “only serves to inspire dangerous behavior and deepen the divide that already exists between the American people.” Condos said his staff members should not be facing threats of any kind.
“It’s really disheartening to see, you know. I’m a big guy, I chose to be in this elected office, I can take the heat,” the 6-foot-2 Condos said.
“I encourage people to disagree with me and I’ll defend my actions, but to attack civil servants who every day go above and beyond to ensure a fair, free and accessible election, while putting themselves at a high risk of exposure — they don’t deserve that,” he said.