A Georgia election official angrily urged President Donald Trump to “stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence” and blasted politicians who have remained silent about the results while election officials, workers, and their families have faced multiple threats.
“It has all gone too far,” Gabriel Sterling, voting systems manager for the Georgia secretary of state, said during a press conference Tuesday. “Someone is going to get hurt. Someone is going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right.”
Sterling, visibly shaken during a short appearance with reporters, said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has received death threats, his wife has received sexualized threats on her cellphone, and he himself has needed police protection outside his home after the contentious election where the southern state became a pivotal point in President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
The “straw that broke the camel’s back,” however, was a noose that was found hanging outside an election worker’s home. The man, who was not identified, is in his twenties and an employee of the private company Dominion Voting Systems, which worked with the state during the 2020 election.
“I have police protection outside my house now, fine,” Sterling said. “I took a higher-profile job. I get it. This kid took a job. He just took a job, and it’s just wrong. I can’t begin to explain the level of anger I have over this, and every American, every Georgian, Republican and Democrat alike, should have the same level of anger.”
Fed by baseless conspiracy theories of mass voter fraud — many of them peddled and retweeted by Trump and his legal team — election officials in multiple battleground states have reported facing threats from the president’s supporters.
Arizona’s secretary of state last month said lies and conspiracies pushed by Trump, Republican members of Congress, and other elected officials had helped escalate threats against herself, her staffers, and their families.
“It is well past time that they stop,” Katie Hobbs said. She said that a threat was made against her and her family on Parler, a social media site that’s popular among far-right extremists.
“Their words and actions have consequences,” she said.
In Nevada, the registrar of voters for Clark County said his wife and mother were concerned for his safety, and additional protections were being put in place to keep voting officials safe. And in Michigan, Attorney General Dana Nessel in a statement asked people to stop harassing members of her staff, including threats to “shove sharpies in uncomfortable places.”
Yet the threats have also come from current and former officials from the White House and the Trump campaign as the administration continues to push unfounded claims of vast voter fraud.
On Monday, Trump campaign attorney Joe diGenova said that Christopher Krebs, the former head of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency — whose agency pushed back against Trump’s claims of voter fraud — should be “drawn and quartered, taken out at dawn, and shot.”
Sterling, who has been providing regular updates on the election, called on the president and other politicians to condemn the threats, and urge supporters to stop before someone is hurt.
“It has to stop,” Sterling said. “Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up — and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”
Sterling condemned officials who have remained silent as election workers have faced increasing threats.
“This is the backbone of democracy and all of you who have not said a damn word are complicit in this,” he said.
Claims of massive voting irregularities have continued to spew from the president and his supporters despite no evidence demonstrating it — and despite judges rejecting most of the legal challenges being posed by the president’s campaign lawyers.
On Tuesday, the chorus of legal officials pointing out the lack of evidence of voter fraud claims included US Attorney General Bill Barr, an ardent supporter of the president’s, who told the Associated Press that the Justice Department had looked into the issue and found no evidence of fraud that would change the outcome of the election.
Sterling urged the president to “move forward.”
“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” he said. “There’s always a possibility, I get it, and you have the rights to go through the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is to stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence.”
“Be the bigger man here,” he said, addressing the president. “Tell your supporters: Don’t be violent. Don’t intimidate. All that is wrong. It’s un-American.”