Voters in Arizona are on edge with only hours left before the polls open for the midterm elections. On Monday, during separate campaign events for Sen. Mark Kelly and gubernatorial candidate Katie Hobbs, fans voiced worries about political violence and upheaval in the days and weeks ahead if their candidates were to lose.
Ruthee Goldcorn, 67, says to TIME at a Hobbs get-out-the-vote rally in Peoria, “I’m frightened to death.” As a voter, I am petrified. As a poll worker, I am really petrified. As a Jew, I’m really terrified. Eleanor Ralph, 89, said at the same occasion that she would be staying home when the polls closed on Tuesday.
We’re just going to hang out at the house, she declares. We won’t be putting ourselves in danger or making a public statement by taking to the streets. This is a decision we made on our own.
When President Joe Biden and Kelly won their respective elections by a margin of less than 10,000 votes in Arizona two years ago, widespread rumors spread that the election had been stolen. The potential for escalation is a major concern throughout this election season.
A federal court last week banned an election monitoring organization from camping out or carrying guns near ballot drop boxes, filming or photographing voters, publishing personal information about voters, or distributing misleading information about election regulations. Clean Elections USA has said that it seeks to prevent voting fraud. The court ruled that their actions intimidated potential voters. Hundreds of threats have been made against election workers in Arizona before the election on November 8, Reuters reported.
The current environment is “extremely dangerous,” Goldcorn adds. She stated she wasn’t concerned about her personal safety, despite her intention to work as a poll worker at the Sun City Senior Center. In light of the tense atmosphere surrounding this election, she emphasized that Maricopa County was taking extra precautions to ensure its residents’ safety.
Candidates have also been subjected to intimidation and harassment in the past.
Former Representative Gabby Giffords, whose life was threatened in an attempted assassination in 2011, is married to Kelly. She had a catastrophic brain damage as a result. Arizona Secretary of State Hobbs’s home was surrounded by protesters in 2020 after she certified Joe Biden’s election win under tremendous pressure from former President Donald Trump and his allies. Over the last two years, she has gotten several threatening voicemails from individuals who have said things like, “you should be hunted,” “you should be hanged for treason,” and “you will pay with your life.”