WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Oct. 26, Reuters released a new poll showing that more than 40% of voters are worried about threats of violence or voter intimidation at polling places in the upcoming midterm elections. When separated by partisanship, 51% of Democratic voters are concerned about intimidation, compared to 38% of Republicans. Notably, the same poll also showed that 67% of those surveyed were concerned about extremist acts of violence after the election. Following the 2020 election, supporters of former President Donald Trump violently stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 in efforts to halt the ceremonial certification of electoral votes.
Over the course of the past week, the Arizona secretary of state’s office has already referred six instances of potential intimidation to the Arizona attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). Arizona has become the fixation of concerns over voter intimidation as reports emerge of “election security” vigilantes monitoring drop boxes, photographing voters and their license plates and in some cases, carrying arms, in Maricopa and Yavapai counties. The Maricopa County sheriff said he will increase security and that his office has referred two incidents to county prosecutors for potential criminal charges. Two lawsuits have also been filed in the past few days trying to stop the groups engaging in this intimidation.
This phenomenon is not constrained to Arizona: A group called “Audit the Vote Hawaii” is recruiting volunteers to stake out drop boxes in Hawaii. In other states and within the DOJ, elected officials and prosecutors are preparing to respond to more intimidation as we near Election Day.