The Justice Department launched a task force to combat threats against election workers.

The Justice Department charged a man for threatening a Arizona election worker by leaving threatening voicemails.
“You need to do your fucking job right because other people from other states are watching your ass,” he said.
The DOJ is making a concerted push to mitigate threats against election workers.

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that it had charged a Missouri man for leaving threatening voicemails for an Arizona election worker following the 2020 presidential election, signaling the latest effort by the department to mitigate the threats against election workers.

Walter Lee Hoornstra, 50, was charged with one count of communicating an interstate threat and one count of making a threatening telephone call, according to the DOJ. The indictment, handed down on Tuesday, alleges that on May 19, 2021, Hoornstra left a voicemail message on a Maricopa County election official’s cell phone.

In the voicemail message, he allegedly said: “You call things unhinged and insane lies when there’s a forensic audit going on. You need to check yourself. You need to do your fucking job right because other people from other states are watching your ass. You fucking renege on this deal or give them any more troubles, your ass will never make it to your next little board meeting.”

Hoornstra could face up to seven years in prison if convicted of these charges, according to the DOJ.

During the 2020 presidential election, Arizona was one of the key battleground states that President Joe Biden ultimately won. Following the election results, then-President Donald Trump declared that election fraud occurred in Maricopa County and called for an audit. Cyber Ninjas in Maricopa County conducted a GOP-led audit. The company ultimately concluded that there was no evidence of election fraud, despite Trump and others insisting there was.

This is one of several criminal cases the Justice Department has brought against individuals who have threatened election workers. Last year, the department launched a law enforcement task force dedicated to addressing the rising threats against election workers. Since then, the DOJ has looked into more than 1,000 contacts “reported as hostile or harassing” by election workers across the country.

“These public servants protect our fundamental right to vote by administering fair and free elections,” Luis Quesada, the assistant director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division, said in a statement. “Any attempts to interfere with our elections by intimidating election officials, their staffs, and volunteers with threats of violence will not be tolerated.”

Insider previously reported concerns that violence against election workers will only increase ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. 

“I’m concerned that it will cost human lives just to have elections in America,” Adrian Fontes, the former recorder of Maricopa County in Arizona, told Insider. “Elections administration is the one piece of critical infrastructure in the United States that cannot be skipped. We cannot underfund it, we cannot understaff it. And we have to make sure that it’s protected.”

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