Arizona secretary of state decries threats to election officials as 'domestic terrorism'

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Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, a Democrat, decried rising threats to election officials as “domestic terrorism,” and said that he and other offices are working with law enforcement nationwide to handle the issue.

“And I think back to what we were talking about just a moment ago, one of the ways that I have been looking at this and addressing this is telling the really hard truth,” Fontes said during his appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” part of a recorded episode that will air on Sunday. 

“And that is this: Threats against election officials in the United States of America is domestic terrorism,” he continued. “Terrorism is defined as a threat or violence for a political outcome. That’s what this is.” 

He was one of the four secretaries of state appearing on the “Meet the Press” bipartisan panel that discussed threats to democracy. Fontes was also joined by Michigan’s Jocelyn Benson, Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger and Al Schmidt from Pennsylvania. 

Fontes’ remarks come as local election workers have increasingly been fearful for their safety heading into the November elections. A survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, which was released earlier this month, found that nearly four in 10 local election workers have dealt with harassment, threats and abuse while doing their job. 

Law enforcement officials are working to ensure greater safety for election workers in Arizona, one of several battleground states in the presidential race. Workers in the Grand Canyon State were hammered with threats and harassment during the 2020 general election. 

“And I think the Department of Justice is really ramping up and starting to prosecute,” Fontes said. “We’re working with law enforcement across the country to really start to address these things. It’s not too little, too late, but we do have to address it for what it is.” 

Arizona was one of seven states where slates of “alternate electors” were dispatched in hopes of being recognized as “duly elected” without any basis. The idea was to have then-Vice President Mike Pence recognize those Trump-backing “alternate electors” over those filed for Biden. 

Fontes said that while threats did have an impact on him and his family, he shared that it would take a lot more to move him “off of his post.” 

“It has impacted not just us but our families, as you mentioned, as well,” he said. “But not just our families. You know, when you have to tell your neighbors, ‘Hey, pay attention. If something happens, the kids might have to come over,’ or to have go-bags ready, or to do any number of these things that so many people across the country have had to suffer through, that’s a problem.” 

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