'Just can't take it anymore': Experts fear Trump-inspired threats are driving a mass exodus of experienced election officials

In the wake of a deluge of conspiracy theories about the 2020 election perpetuated by Donald Trump loyalists -- including many at the highest rungs of the Republican Party -- election officials across the country are facing threats, causing some to fear that a "mass exodus" of officials could be underway, CNN reports.

"Everything I've heard from state officials and from locals is how unbelievably stressful it is, that they just can't take it anymore," said Paul Gronke, a political science professor who founded the voting information center.

"We're in danger of losing a generation's worth of professional election expertise," added David Becker, who runs the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research. "That would be bad enough if it weren't also combined with the fact that they might be replaced with partisan hackery."

The situation has gotten so dire that Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to meet with election officials and poll workers to hear their concerns.

Lies about the 2020 election have also prompted new penalties and curbs on election officials' authority under laws advanced by Republican-controlled state legislatures this year.

CNN tells the story of Seth Bluestein, chief deputy commissioner to Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who helped supervise the counting of mail ballots in Philadelphia last November and later became the target of threats and anti-Semitic messages.

"You will be hung in a court of law. You will not escape this treason," one female caller said in a voicemail message to Bluestein at the time. On Facebook, another person warned that "everyone with a gun is going to be at your house."

"You never expect to deal with the kinds of things we dealt with in 2020," said Bluestein, 32. "My biggest concern now is the damage this is doing to our institutions and our democratic system."

"The easiest thing anyone could do to restore confidence in our elections," he said, "is to simply stop lying about the election being stolen because it's not true."

Read the full report over at CNN.