With the midterm election just four days away, federal officials and voting rights advocates are warning of voter intimidation, disinformation and threats of political violence.
On the same day prosecutors say a hammer-wielding suspect assaulted House Speak Nancy Pelosi’s husband in San Francisco, the Department of Homeland Security released a bulletin warning about the increased risk of politically motived violence.
The bulletin warns that extremists could target election-related locations in hopes of “swaying voting habits, undermining perceptions of the legitimacy of the voting process, or prompting a government reaction.”
Officials say there are no specific or credible threats at this time.
“This idea that we have shifted to violence is sort of the answer for things that we disagree with, it is certainly something that is fairly new in elections,” said Neal Kelley, Chairman of the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections
President Biden gave a primetime address this week warning of political violence and voter intimidation.
“There’s something else at stake, democracy itself,” the President said.
Lee County’s Supervisor of Elections, Tommy Doyle, says there have been no reports of violence or intimidation.
“I haven’t seen anything really like that. There have been some incidents of people driving by, yelling, and screaming at one of the early voting locations. But they drive by and go on. Haven’t really had any incidents so far,” Doyle said.
Doyle said disinformation, mostly centering on conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, is prominent among some voters.
“People are believing a lot of this disinformation about tabulation, and about (voting machines) being on the internet. It’s all misinformation,” Doyle said.
“The 2020 election disinformation never really left. And is continuing to drive conspiracy theories that undermine voters’ faith in the election,” said Jesse Littlewood with Common Cause, a voting rights advocacy.
“It attempts to promote distrust in the election system. That heightened sense of distrust is corrosive to the idea of participating in our democracy and has lingering effects downstream.”
Doyle let Fox 4 Investigates into the room as volunteers were counting mail-in ballots.
His message to voters is their ballots are secure.
“People should be confident that we are running a secure and transparent election,” said Doyle.
The Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the Department of Justice are devoting more resources to track threats ahead of election day.
They have a hotline set up (800) 253-3931 for anyone to call with a complaint about their voting process.