Presidential harassment at the polls made 'something that’s supposed to be so patriotic, so hard': report
(AFP/File / Brendan Smialowski)

In Fulton County, election officials and volunteers worked tirelessly over the past five days in an effort to deliver Georgia's 16 electoral votes to Americans. When a pipe burst causing uncontrollable delays in ballot counting occurred, all eyes were on them to get back to work.

"Water splattering on the floor halted counting for two hours on Election Day, but it didn’t damage any ballots," The Washington Post reported. "And it was nothing compared to the seemingly Augean task of processing nearly 150,000 mail ballots, the unfounded accusations of fraud, the physical threats and the online harassment — and the distinctly racial overtones of mostly White protesters outside the building hurling unfounded accusations of wrongdoing as a largely Black staff of election officials inside methodically counted ballots."

“In Georgia, a pipe burst at a faraway location, totally unrelated to the location of what was happening, and they stopped counting for four hours, and a lot of things happened,” President Donald J. Trump said at the White House on Thursday, seemingly egging them on.

“We’re going to stay here until every single absentee ballot is counted,” Elections Director Shauna Dozier in Clayton County, Georgia, told CNN during an interview about 2 a.m. Friday, with about 3,500 ballots to go. “Whatever it takes to get that done, we’re going to do it.”

The presidential harassment didn't end in Georgia. Peter Antonacci is an election supervisor in Florida’s Broward County where, in 2018, disputes over signatures on mail-in ballots led to recounts and a slew of lawsuits. “We knew we would be under a microscope from day one,” he said.

Following the 2018 debacle, Antonacci was appointed by then-Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) to institute reforms, including finding a better way to organize ballots. Not only did Antonacci make that stride, he also filled 17 vacant positions and potentially over-communicated to voters the need to sign the backs of the ballot envelopes in order to be counted.

Over at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, 150 yellow-vested workers counted Philadelphia’s mail-in ballots. Philadelphia alone received $10 million in private grant funds from investors that included Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan.

At the TVF Center in downtown Detroit, a surge of angry Trumpsters tried to push their way into the facility where ballot counters were trying to do their civic duty. According to The Washington Post, "participants yelled, sang and banged on windows demanding they be let into the room. But with more than 200 challengers from each party already in the room, officials imposed a one-in, one-out policy amid concerns about the upswing in coronavirus cases across Michigan. When a building manager attempted to explain the limit, the crowd shouted him down with chants of 'Let us in!' and 'Stop the vote!' Several dozen police officers were brought in and stationed throughout the building, guarding the windowed entrance to the counting room."

Julie Moroney, a third-year law student at the University of Michigan and a nonpartisan poll challenger on hand on behalf of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, said she saw angry White poll challengers standing over election workers who were predominantly Black women, telling them they were not doing their jobs or were breaking the law.

“That was the most heartbreaking part,” Moroney said. “I felt for those workers. I could only imagine what it would feel like, trying to do your job, having these people hover and sneer at you and yell at you and make something so simple, something that’s supposed to be so patriotic, so hard.”

“The public needs to trust in the election process,” said Maricopa County Elections Department spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson. “And we really believe that security and transparency are the way to ensure that trust is held.”