Threatening U.S. election officials is ‘domestic terrorism,’ says Arizona’s Secretary of State

Adrian Fontes (D-AZ) declares victory in his campaign against Republican candidate Mark Finchem for Arizona’s Secretary of State in the U.S. midterm elections in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., November 14, 2022. 

Jim Urquhart | Reuters

Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes is calling out threats against this country’s election officials as “domestic terrorism.

“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,” Fontes said in a Sunday interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He defined terrorism as “a threat or violence for a political outcome.” “That’s what this is,” Fontes said.

His remarks come as local election officials have expressed concerns about safety as the battle for the White House heats up heading into November.

According to a report released earlier this month by the Brennan Center for Justice, 38% of local election officials across the U.S. have experienced “threats, harassment or abuse” just for doing their jobs, and more than half are concerned about their colleagues’ safety.

Department of Elections workers transport a box of ballots at the San Francisco City Hall voting center during the Super Tuesday primary election in San Francisco, California, U.S. March 5, 2024. 

Loren Elliott | Reuters

The report also revealed that local election officials have sought to make elections safe and secure since the last election, with more than 90% of local election officials reporting that they’ve taken steps to increase election security such as participating in security trainings as well as updating polling place contingency plans and election technology.

Likewise, Fontes noted that he thinks the U.S. Department of Justice is “ramping up” its efforts to combat such threats by “starting to prosecute.”

In March, the DOJ said it’s investigating dozens of threats made to election workers, charging 20 individuals so far – 13 of them have already been convicted.

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

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