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Threats prompt officials to take extra security precautions ahead of Election Day

Wisconsin is one of seven states the U.S. Justice Department is watching closely heading into Election Day.

WISCONSIN, USA — Election Day is just around the corner, and while election officials are working behind the scenes to get the polls ready, they’re also taking extra precautions to keep people safe.

Earlier this month, the FBI issued a warning for people to be on the lookout for threats against election workers.

After the 2020 election, the Justice Department created a new unit to handle these kinds of threats, the Threats to Election Workers Task Force, which officially formed in the summer of 2021.

That task force released a report this summer that showed more than 1,000 threats have been made against election workers across the country.

According to this report, 58% of the credible threats came from just seven states: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Scott McDonell is the county clerk in Dane County, Wisconsin. His office is taking extra precautions heading into Election Day.

“We’ve done a lot of training with clerks on how to de-escalate situations, some active shooter training and then had a lot of conversations with emergency management, law enforcement about how to handle things that may come up,” McDonell said.

McDonell has worked on elections for 10 years in Wisconsin and he never imagined that security would ever be an issue.

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"No, my job was pretty boring and I kind of wish it was boring again,” McDonell said.

He said his office hasn’t received any specific threats recently. Right now it's mostly angry emails, but he worries about what might come up as we get closer to Nov. 8.

“These are the things that make us kind of worried. It’s hard to deal with some of them,” McDonell said.

Joe Mansky has worked elections for 35 years in Minnesota, between Ramsey County and the Secretary of State's Office. He says finding enough election workers to work the polls is already a challenge under normal circumstances. He worries these ongoing threats could scare people away from volunteering in the coming years.

"Being in a situation where people think their safety by working at an election is not at all helpful,” Mansky explained. "I never would have imagined when I started doing this in 1984 that we would ever be in a situation where we would have to contact the FBI about anything, much less the security of our election judges."

The Minnesota Secretary of State's office says so far they have not seen any major threats made against their election workers, but they are still taking precautions.

They are offering training to workers and creating new partnerships with police so they know who to call if something happens.

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