- Nov 10, 2006
“I hope they hang your ****ing ass.”
"Well, Tennessee is watching you, Mr. Rick," a voicemail said. "I'm just right over the border. We're watching you all closely."
Another one had a similar message: "Hey Rick, watching this video of you on YouTube. You need to get your act together or people like me really may go after people like you."
And yet another: "I hope they hang your ****ing ass."
After the 2020 presidential election, hundreds of threatening messages, emails, and voicemails were left for elections workers across the country. This is especially true in election hotspots like Georgia's Fulton County, where officials were harassed for months over the phone and by email. Local law enforcement has not held anyone accountable, and some workers fear continued harassment in future elections.
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Importantly, these calls weren't anonymous. Instead, they were made by people from across the country who believe the false conspiracy that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump—and that election workers in Fulton County were to blame for massive electoral fraud.
VICE News called them back. These messages were sent without shame: Of the threatening messages reviewed by VICE News, almost all contained the phone numbers, email addresses, or names of the people who had sent or left them. None regretted leaving threatening messages or expressed remorse that their words had caused election workers to fear for their lives.
Richard Barron, the elections director of Fulton County, received over a hundred such messages in one week. "We're coming after you and every mother****er that stole this election with our Second Amendment, subpoenas be damned," a message stated. "You're going to be served lead, you ****ing enemy communist cocksucker."
Tennessee resident John Johnson didn't leave that message, though he left others like it. Johnson was convinced by Trump that the election had been stolen in Georgia. He had watched a live feed of Fulton County election workers and spent weeks following the conspiracy. He called Barron with a warning: "We're watching, Rick.
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When VICE News asked him why he left these messages, he remained resolute and without remorse. "I think I'm like every American that watched elections get decided the night of, and then I watched Georgia and a few other key swing states turn into a month-long, dragged out, hiding of information," said Johnson. "When you're a public servant, you've got to be ready to stand up to the scrutiny of people, whether you're a constituent or not."
"Anybody that's threatened by what I've said, that is because you're only threatened because you're guilty," Johnson added.