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In 2022, Joshua Russell from Ohio was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for making death threats against then-Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. He called her a “traitor” and warned that her days were numbered, pleading guilty to one count of making a threatening interstate communication. This incident highlights the increasing threats faced by state election workers, as another individual was recently sentenced to three and a half years for making a bomb threat against Hobbs in 2021. Hobbs, who is now the governor of Arizona, has been a target of threats due to her role in overseeing elections.

The Justice Department’s Election Threats Task Force, established in 2021, has charged approximately 20 defendants for threats against the elections community. Specifically focusing on threats made in Arizona, a state that has been a hotbed for election conspiracy theories since the 2020 election, officials revealed that there are currently seven federal cases involving out-of-state individuals making threats in the state. These threats often stem from election denialists who believe that election workers and officials have wronged them, leading to violent intentions and calls for retribution.

US Attorney for Arizona, Gary Restaino, highlighted a common denominator in many of these cases, where individuals threaten violence against election workers and officials out of an intent to punish those they perceive as traitors. This includes threats of arrests and executions for treason, reflecting a disturbing trend of violence and intimidation against those involved in the electoral process. US Attorney General Merrick Garland emphasized the importance of protecting the right to vote, stating that the cornerstone of democracy relies on the ability of election workers and officials to carry out their duties without fearing for their lives.

Garland warned that those who threaten violence against public servants tasked with administering elections will face consequences, with the Justice Department committed to aggressively investigating and prosecuting such cases. The safety and security of election workers are paramount to the functioning of democracy, and measures must be taken to ensure that they can perform their duties without intimidation or fear. The sentencing of individuals involved in making threats against election officials sends a message that such behavior will not be tolerated, and the Justice Department will continue to hold those responsible for threatening public servants accountable for their actions.

The rise of threats and violence against election workers is a concerning trend that threatens the integrity of the electoral process and undermines democracy. Efforts to intimidate and harm those involved in administering elections not only jeopardize their safety but also erode public trust in the democratic system. The Justice Department’s proactive stance in investigating and prosecuting individuals who make threats against election workers is crucial in upholding the rule of law and safeguarding the essential role that election officials play in ensuring fair and free elections. By holding perpetrators accountable, the Justice Department aims to protect the fundamental right to vote and maintain the democratic principles upon which the nation was founded.

As threats against election workers persist, it is essential for law enforcement agencies to remain vigilant in identifying and addressing instances of violence and intimidation. The Justice Department’s commitment to aggressively pursuing those who threaten public servants underscores the seriousness of such actions and the need to protect the individuals responsible for safeguarding the democratic process. By ensuring the safety and security of election workers, the Justice Department plays a critical role in upholding the integrity of elections and preserving the democratic values upon which the nation is built. The sentencing of individuals like Joshua Russell serves as a reminder that threats against election officials will not be tolerated, and those who engage in such behavior will face legal consequences.

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