The possible exclusion of former President Donald Trump from the 2024 primary ballots in Maine and Colorado has triggered a disturbing surge in threats against top election officials. This unfolding saga underscores the fragility of our democratic process and the dangerous climate surrounding American politics today.
Trump, still the GOP’s front-runner to challenge President Joe Biden next year, faces significant legal hurdles. His eligibility is under scrutiny due to allegations of inciting the January 6, 2021, insurrection, potentially violating Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.
In Maine, a bold decision by Democratic Secretary of State Shenna Bellows to bar Trump from the primary ballot has catapulted her into the eye of the storm. Although Bellows has temporarily suspended her ruling pending court appeals, the backlash has been immediate and severe. In a chilling turn of events, Bellows’ home was targeted in a “swatting” incident – a dangerous hoax intended to provoke a heavy police response. This alarming act followed a flood of threats and the circulation of dehumanizing images of Bellows online. She rightly condemns this behavior, emphasizing the need for civil disagreement without resorting to threats and violence.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold is facing a similar barrage of hostility. Following the Colorado Supreme Court’s disqualification of Trump from the state’s primary ballot, Griswold has reported receiving an onslaught of death threats. With a case now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court, tensions are escalating. Griswold’s stance is unwavering: she refuses to be intimidated, asserting that democracy and peace must prevail over tyranny and violence.
Both secretaries’ experiences are alarming examples of the current volatile political environment. Griswold has spoken out about the hundreds, if not thousands, of threats she has received, attributing much of this hostility to the influence of Donald Trump. She describes him as a major threat to American democracy, highlighting his history of using threats and intimidation against opponents and attempting to undermine the electoral process.
The situation in Maine and Colorado is not just about the technicalities of election law. It’s a reflection of the broader challenge facing our democracy – the need to protect the integrity of our elections and the safety of those who administer them. These officials, like Bellows and Griswold, are on the front lines, making tough decisions in an increasingly hostile and polarized political climate.
Bellows’ and Griswold’s experiences serve as a stark reminder of the dangers faced by election officials in today’s America. They stand as courageous figures, upholding the principles of democracy in the face of threats and intimidation. Their actions and subsequent reactions reveal the deep divisions and the charged atmosphere surrounding our electoral process. As we move closer to the 2024 elections, the resilience and integrity of our democratic institutions, and those who serve them, will be tested like never before.