GEE AND URSULA

Washington election director forced into hiding over potential threats of retaliation, violence

Jan 18, 2021, 11:43 AM | Updated: 11:46 am
King County election, ballots...
Washington ballots being received and tallied. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

The political climate regarding election fraud has been fraught both in Washington state and across the county. In the former, it became so problematic that state election officials have been forced to take extreme precautions in the face of potential threats.

Sec. of State Kim Wyman: Never seen this level of vitriol in elections

That includes Washington state’s election director, who was forced into hiding after an Iranian website launched calling for the assassination of U.S. election officials. That website hosted photos of those officials alongside home addresses, encouraging Americans displeased with the election results to go out and commit acts of violence.

“My state election director is in an undisclosed location with her family because they’re worried about their physical and personal safety,” Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman told KIRO Radio’s Gee and Ursula Show. “It’s a scary time, and people are emotional, they’re illogical, and they’re not rational.”

“The scary thing is that it’s just got to take one person that you motivate that says, ‘Yeah, we gotta go out and kill election officials,'” she added.

Wyman herself has taken precautions as well, having even gotten rid of two personalized license plates that made her vehicle too easy to identify. All told, the situation has made for difficult — and often emotional — times for election officials across the country.

“It’s frustrating because I go between fear and anger — I get mad because I don’t want to be afraid,” Wyman said.

Much of that has been driven by rhetoric from the White House leading into the 2020 election, which saw President Trump repeatedly and emphatically insist that the results were fraudulent.

Washington state saw a similar narrative play out with former gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp filing a lawsuit over the results, despite losing by over 545,000 votes. He eventually withdrew that lawsuit, but between that and Trump’s own rhetoric, the damage had already been done.

How do we bring the country together? Gee & Ursula listeners sound off

“When you have a President of the United States for six months leading into the election over and over and over … saying, ‘the only explanation for my loss is a rigged election,’ people started to believe it,” Wyman described. “And it’s dangerous — it’s dangerous because it undermines our democratic institutions.”

In the months and years to come, Wyman believes the state and country may very well have a long road ahead to restore trust in our election systems, especially as misinformation continues to spread across social media. Despite that, though, she remains hopeful for the future.

“I think the most important thing we can do is first and foremost refute the lies and the misinformation and disinformation that’s been shared,” Wyman proposed. “We’ve got to build it back brick by brick.”

Listen to the Gee and Ursula Show weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Washington election director forced into hiding over potential threats of retaliation, violence