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States Are Bracing for Social Media-Enabled Election Violence

Election workers across the US have received death threats and online harassment, leading to resignations

A police officer stands outside the Philadelphia Convention Center as ballots are counted on November 06, 2020.

A police officer stands outside the Philadelphia Convention Center as ballots are counted on November 06, 2020.

Photographer: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

State elections officials say they’re seeing an uptick in a new kind of social media-fueled danger to US midterms: online anger that threatens to spill over into real-world violence.

In Arizona, online conspiracy theories resulted in so many harassing phone calls to the secretary of state’s office, employees had to take a break from answering. In Michigan, officials have seen such a flood of violent rhetoric online that this week they sent letters to tech company CEOs pleading with them to do more to control their platforms. In Maine, a state where Election Day is associated with patriotic pie-eating, a poll worker last year received a credible death threat on Facebook.