‘We are here just to do our jobs:’ Election workers face spike in threats

WASHINGTON DC — As voters cast their ballots Tuesday, the election workers and election officials keeping the process running are facing more threats than ever before.

>>EXPLAINER: Threats to US election security grow more complex

News Center 7′s Samantha Manning reports law enforcement is warning about a spike in threats and harassment against polls workers and election officials this election season.

It led the U.S. Department of Justice to establish a task force specifically focused on investigating these kinds of crimes last year.

Some election offices have beefed up security by installing bulletproof glass and new security cameras.

“I do fear for the people that are on the frontlines of our democracy,” said Amber McReynolds, a Senior Political Advisor for the nonprofit group Issue One and a member of the National Council on Election Integrity.

We asked McReynolds how the threats this year compares to previous years.

“It’s gotten exponentially worse because of the conspiracies, the lies about the election process, the lack of understanding,” said McReynolds. “It’s having a dramatic impact on the people on the frontline of our democracy that are simply there to do their jobs, to serve voters.”

>>As voter intimidation concerns grow, election officials look to federal, state laws for protection

We have seen firsthand how heated political rhetoric and conspiracy theories can fuel violence.

Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband Paul Pelosi was violently attacked with a hammer inside their California home by a suspect allegedly looking for the Speaker.

Over the summer, Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), the Republican candidate for Governor of New York, was attacked on stage at a campaign event.

Election officials say the threat extends to both parties.

“I’ve seen election officials come together, whether or not they’re blue or red to say, hey stop it. We are here just to do our jobs,” said Thomas Hicks, Chairman of the Election Assistance Commission.

This year, for the first time the Commission allowed federal funds to be used for physical security at local election sites and for local election offices to monitor threats on social media.

“Congress and the federal government need to do far more to fund elections and the critical infrastructure that it is and that includes the people,” said McReynolds. “That includes the physical spaces. That includes the technology providers.”