The Department of Justice on Thursday said it created a task force to deal with threats made against election workers, administration, or other individuals connected to the electoral process.
The agency said in a news release that the task force will focus on threats of violence against the workers and staff to ensure they perform their jobs and will get support from various U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and FBI field offices. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco will head the effort.
“To protect the electoral process for all voters, we must identify threats against those responsible for administering elections, whether federal, state, or local,” said Monaco in a statement. “A threat to any election official, worker, or volunteer is a threat to democracy. We will promptly and vigorously prosecute offenders to protect the rights of American voters, to punish those who engage in this criminal behavior, and to send the unmistakable message that such conduct will not be tolerated.”
Monaco added that the FBI and Justice Department won’t “tolerate threats against any federal, state or local election workers” and the agency “will investigate any and all federal violations to the fullest.”
In a speech in June outlining the agency’s election protection measures, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the agency is monitoring alleged violent threats targeting elections officials.
“Such threats undermine our electoral process and violate a myriad of federal laws,” the attorney general said during the June 11 speech in Washington.
Last year, following the conclusion of the Nov. 3 election, two Republican canvassers in Wayne County said they received death threats after rescinding their votes to certify the election in the country.
The Justice Department’s news release on Thursday didn’t provide details about the nature of the threats and did not make mention of the numerous alleged threats that were made against election observers during the Nov. 3 contest.
The move comes a day after the agency alerted states that it is monitoring the election audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, as well as proposed audits in other areas.
“Where election records leave the control of elections officials, the systems for maintaining the security, integrity, and chain of custody of those records can easily be broken,” a guidance document from the Justice Department said.
Furthermore, the document said that “where elections records are no longer under the control of elections officials, this can lead to a significant risk of the records being lost, stolen, altered, compromised, or destroyed.”
“This risk is exacerbated if the election records are given to private actors who have neither experience nor expertise in handling such records and who are unfamiliar with the obligations imposed by federal law,” said the agency.