There are two things to know about the Republican Party's organized attack on non-corrupt secretaries of state and other state election officials. The first is that it is resulting in more chaos in more places than you might think. The second is that it is working. It is having exactly the effects Republican lawmakers and party leaders intended when they grabbed hold of Donald Trump's absolutely false hoaxes claiming a random and varying assortment of supposed election plots against him.
A CNN rundown of just some of the vitriol and death threats being directed at numerous secretaries of state, all of whom committed the alleged sins of not furthering Trump's hoax or not magically "finding" new Trump votes after Trump demanded they do so, included the following:
"I'm really jonzing to see your purple face after you've been hanged," wrote an emailer to Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold.
"I am a hunter—and I think you should be hunted," a woman told Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs in a voicemail.
For Republican Party officials, elected and not, this was the expected and desired outcome.
When you craft outright lies for your own gain, whip those devoted to you into a frenzy with claims that all of America is under threat because of the hoax you invented, and point at individual public servants with the message that that person, the one right there, is the one conspiring to steal the country from you, you are acting with both the knowledge that your hoax will likely cause your now-furious base to act out on your invented dangers and intentionally choosing which people you will aim them at.
Elections-related offices around the country are facing threats of violence based on false information peddled not by Trump alone, and not by paranoid Facebook trolls alone, but by an orchestrated, nationwide push by Republican Party officials to falsely claim there is a conspiracy threatening their voters in the form of public servants who were not willing to bend to a delusional Dear Leader's claims of invisible victory.
This is the movement Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, the Republican National Committee, your local Republican candidates, and uncountably many other Republican lawmakers built by embracing and extending the Big Lie. The purpose of the lie was not solely to defend a delusional Trump's wounded feelings. It is to demonize those whose loyalty to the party was proven insufficient when faced with a choice of helping to overturn an election or accepting a Republican loss. Those people are being purged. Republicans like the Georgia secretary of state who explicitly refused to "find" new votes for Trump and invent a Trump victory where there was none are being targeted by the Republican Party for removal. Democrats who had the temerity to announce a Trump loss in a state Republicans would have needed for a Trump victory are being barraged with conspiracy theories being hurled from state and national Republican leaders, intentionally.
Every other election official in the country is facing the same, if only because the crowds Republican leaders have now worked into foaming rage through repetition of a false and crooked hoax do not intend to waste time parsing out which precise targets they should be mad at. Their Republican leaders insist there are "questions" about the vote, whether invented ones or ones that worked through the courts and were swiftly resolved because that is how we do these things, and the base now inundating elections offices with murder fantasies and countless suggestions that we know where you live take the abstract "questions" being raised and apply them, with equal abstraction, to whichever local leaders cross their line of sight.
The point needs to be made again: The threats of violence being delivered to elections officials, from secretaries of state to local precinct volunteers, are the intent of Republican lawmaker's repetitions of election-hoax language. Unleashing the rage of a propaganda-fed base is the point of crafting that false propaganda to begin with. No Republican, from Trump to Giuliani to Hawley to Cotton to their countless lower-profile versions, is peddling false hoaxes claiming election officials corruptly stole Republican victory out from under Republican voters unless they are looking to explicitly target those election officials for retribution.
The people holding these offices and volunteering for these positions are now fully expecting violence to break out and it is because violence is preferable, to the party Trump reformed as a collection of gutless sycophants, to a loss of power. The claim that the election was "stolen" from Trump, as plastered on signs and parroted by the insurrection-leaning segments of the Republican base, was used to gather a crowd of America's most violent far-right figures to be used as weapons against Congress itself. The same claims are being used to target anyone associated with the infrastructure of our elections, regardless of position. Those people are more vulnerable, and everybody knows it.
This, truly, is what it means to be anti-American. Republican leaders are intentionally targeting those that run our elections—not for any actual sins, but with invented hoaxes specifically intended to provoke such fury against those officials that they abandon their posts.
It's working. CNN notes that up to "40% of election and poll workers in the largest jurisdictions" have already said they will not be returning to their posts for the next election, and "nearly one in three" local election workers say they feel "unsafe" in their jobs. Nearly one in five say they "had received threats."
Who will fill those positions? In some cases, nobody. This will create Election Day chaos, long voting lines, and reduced turnout. In other cases the positions will be filled by the same propaganda-believing partisan loyalists who worked to drive out current officials; they will form new teams more willing to commit the sort of acts Trump and his allies believed true Republican loyalists should be willing to do.
Through propaganda aimed at unleashing threats targeting elections officials, Republicanism is using the intentionally unleashed threat of violence to both push the insufficiently loyal out of the management of elections and to encourage the furiously, frothingly loyal to supplant them.
In some cases, the threats of violence have more immediate results. A meeting of the Michigan redistricting commission was "indefinitely delayed" due to such a threat—the machinery of our elections is being directly sabotaged through propaganda-driven violence.
There is no plausible denial of any of this. Any claimed concerns about election "integrity" coming from Republican mouths are rendered immediately invalid if the concerns raised are false information. You craft a propagandistic hoax only to achieve a goal that cannot be justified using the truth. The moment Republicans adopted the Big Lie as touchstone and as test of loyalty, the moment they claimed that the country was in peril due to fictional conspiracies by the movement's opponents, it became self-evident that they were seeking remedies against their enemies that normal politics could not supply.
The moment the once-conservative, now ideologically vacant party adopted flagrant hoaxes as means of stoking public fury, it turned to fascism.
The threats of violence are absolutely intentional, and the Republican Party is not only taking no action to rein them in but is continuing to beat the same "hoax" drums incessantly, in speeches and rallies and fundraising letters, goading its base even further. The only available response is to acknowledge that this is precisely what the Party is doing—and that it is anti-American. That word, and ones like it. Stoking violence via intentional hoaxes is a betrayal of the country. The Party is corrupt, is fascist, and is a full-throated enemy of our democracy.
There are no election "questions" that have not been answered. There were exactly zero claimed election "frauds" that Trump's band of rat-chewed propagandists could even once identify, in all of the speeches and court cases, that was not immediately debunked. Every Republican leader knows this, because they followed each and watched as each was proven to be a fiction. When they continue to repeat the now-proven lies, it can only be because they believe the advantage of attacking Republicanism's enemies with false information is worth not just one insurrection, but whatever new violence can also be squeezed out for the Party's use.