Arizona secretary of state calls threats to election officials ‘domestic terrorism’

The rising threats against US elections officials are a form of domestic terrorism, the secretary of state in the presidential campaign battleground state of Arizona has said.

“Terrorism is defined as a threat of violence for a political outcome,” Adrian Fontes said in remarks recorded for an NBC Meet the Press episode airing on Sunday morning. “That’s what this is, and … we do have to address it for what it is.”

Fontes’s comments came as he formed part of a Meet the Press panel of top elections officials from states whose voters could decide in November whether Joe Biden serves a second term in the White House or Donald Trump returns to the presidency.

The Guardian has reported how Arizona’s most populous county, Maricopa, has taken extraordinary measures to protect its staff and the counting of ballots. Election workers there endure a daily torrent of hateful and menacing messages over email and social media as Trump and his Republican supporters continue to lie that Biden and his Democratic allies fraudulently stole the 2020 presidential race from him.

Fontes, a Democrat and retired US marine, told Meet the Press that such abuse was not enough to get him “off of his post” personally. But, he added: “I will say … it has [affected] not just us but our families as well.

“You know, when you have to tell your neighbors, ‘Hey, pay attention, if something happens, the kids might have to come over,’ or to have go-bags ready, or to any number of these things so many people across the country have had to suffer through – that’s a problem,” Fontes said. “One of the ways that I have been looking at this and addressing this is telling the really hard truth. And that is this: threats against elections officials in the United States of America is domestic terrorism.”

The label of domestic terrorism is one that both the political left and right in the US constantly argue over.

For instance, federal prosecutors have avoided seeking domestic terrorism sentences for Trump supporters convicted of carrying out the deadly attack on the US Capitol after his defeat to Biden. But agencies laid the groundwork to level domestic terrorism charges against mainly liberal activists protesting against a proposed police training center in Atlanta known as Cop City.

Fontes said he was optimistic that the justice department was “really ramping up and starting to prosecute” threats aimed at election officials. Notably, in March, a Massachusetts man who had threatened to blow up Fontes’s office in 2021 was handed three and a half years in prison, marking one of the most severe federal punishments yet handed down for the wave of violent threats against ballot workers driven by Trump’s stolen election lies.

Trump’s attempts to subvert the legitimacy of Biden’s victory in 2020 has been at the center of several of the more than 80 state and federal criminal charges pending against him across a total of four indictments in various jurisdictions.

“We’re working with law enforcement across the country to really start to address these things,” Fontes said of election-worker security. “It’s not too little, too late – but we do have to address it for what it is.”

Source: US Politics -


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