Georgia’s secretary of state has reportedly received death threats along with his wife as the state conducts a recount of the presidential election, amid pressure from his fellow Republicans to find ways to exclude ballots.
Brad Raffensperger’s wife was sent several threatening text messages after he announced the state would conduct a hand recount of the presidential race, as President Donald Trump and some Georgia Republicans promoted unfounded claims of voting irregularities and mismanagement.
One message sent to Mr Raffensperger’s wife read: “Your husband deserves to face a firing squad.”
“You better not botch this recount,” another message read. “Your life depends on it.”
The messages were first shared by Fox 5 Atlanta, with senior reporter Dale Russell writing in a tweet that the Republican secretary of state “fears it was sent by someone in his own [GOP] party.”
In screenshots the reporter posted online, the messages appeared to have been sent in the days following the election to the secretary of state’s wife via multiple email addresses, including “firstname.lastname@example.org” and “email@example.com.”
A third message sent to the Republican official’s wife said: “The Raffenspergers should be put on trial for treason and face execution.”
State officials have moved forward with the recount regardless of threats and pressure from Republicans to toss out ballots, as Mr Raffensperger said the recount was effectively tracking with the initial vote count Georgia conducted beginning on Election Day.
“What's really troubling about it is when threats actually came into my wife’s, you know, cell phone," the secretary of state told the local news outlet. “That is what is really offensive.”
Mr Raffensperger and other state officials have reassured voters the election was conducted in a way that was free of fraud, with the ongoing vote count indicating that President-elect Joe Biden flipped the state from red to blue in his bid against President Donald Trump.
"I believe we had a successful election," Mr Raffensperger told Fox 5 Atlanta.
The Department of Homeland Security described the 2020 US election as the “most secure election in American history” and said there was no credible evidence of mass voter fraud or rigging.
Other officials in states with closely-watched ballot counts have also received threats and vitriol in recent days, including Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who described the threats as “a symptom of a deeper problem in our state and country — the consistent and systematic undermining of trust in each other and our democratic process.”
“This should be a time for thanking voters and election workers for their incredible commitment during unprecedented challenges,” she added. “I offer my gratitude and express my administration for the Arizonans who inspire trust in our democracy.”
Still, the president has continued to promote debunked conspiracy theories and claims the election was stolen from him as he has yet to concede to Mr Biden.
Mr Trump has lied about the results of the election on several occasions, in some cases before votes could even be counted — including when he said he could only lose if the vote was rigged against him. He falsely claimed during the weekend that Democrats “altered” millions of ballots to their favor and used technical glitches to “steal votes” from him.
None of this is true or has any basis in fact, according to state election officials who said in a statement: “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
But the assertions have caused many on the right to believe the president’s claims, with a new poll showing half of Republicans surveyed said Mr Biden only won the election because it was “rigged” against Mr Trump.
Georgia’s hand recount of the vote was likely to conclude on Wednesday, as Mr Raffensperger urged Republicans to begin accepting the reality of the situation, singling out Georgia Republican Doug Collins, an ally of the president.
“I know that Doug Collins and his acolytes are spinning people up,” he told the local news outlet, “and it's time that he just mans up, grows up, and speaks the truth instead of speaking lies.”
Mr Raffensperger has also spent recent days debunking the president’s false claims about the vote count in Georgia while attempting to set the record straight about the state’s electoral process.
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