‘Do Your Job or You Will Hang’

An election worker inspects a mail-in ballot prior to tabulation at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Over the last year, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams has become used to receiving images of nooses and threatening voicemails. One threat was serious enough he reported it to the FBI.

“It’s not just me,” he said. “It’s the state board of elections. It’s my senior staff.”

Prominent politicians and conspiracy theorists have spent two years trumpeting lies about the 2020 election and have already begun sowing seeds of doubt about Tuesday’s high-stakes midterms. State and local election officials are bracing for a tumultuous few weeks. 

Kenneth Polite Jr., assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division, said in August that the DOJ has received more than 1,000 tips about election workers facing threats since last summer. About 11 percent of those tips led to the FBI opening investigations, and nearly 60 percent of the potentially criminal threats were in states subject to 2020 election lawsuits, recounts, and audits: Arizona, Georgia, Colorado, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

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