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June 25, 2024

Election Security: Standing up to Intimidation, Preventing Overt Attacks

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We have seen, and fear we will see again, overt security events: intentional efforts and opportunistic attempts to use an intimidating presence, lodged threats and even violence to influence and alter election procedures and outcomes.

Potential threats exist across a continuum. An angry individual or distrustful observer could disrupt election activities. A group could arrive at an election facility without disruptive intentions. Anxious, misinformed cynicism from electors at a voting facility can channel rumor, innuendo, misunderstanding and anger, generating a mob mentality. More intentional groups, ranging from supporters of a candidate to self-styled militia and other extremist groups, may also attempt to gain influence over processing or voting facilities and procedures. The impact of intimidation at a voting site may be local and involve lower numbers, but ripples of news and gossip can spread fear in the broader community. A strong and immediate response can help calm concerns and limit the damage.