Poll workers and voting sites could be targets of extremists, NYPD warns, urging 'vigilance'

The department isn't aware of any such credible threats in New York City.

October 26, 2022, 7:40 PM

With the midterms just 13 days away, the New York City Police Department is warning that amid a "complex" threat environment, both racially motivated and anti-government extremists could target poll workers, political rallies, political officials and voting sites, according to a Wednesday intelligence bulletin obtained by ABC News.

The bulletin urges that this assessment requires "elevated vigilance as the US midterm elections begin."

The NYPD is not aware of any credible threats to polling sites in New York City or any candidates.

"However, hostile rhetoric and an abundance of generalized threats from likeminded [extremists] and malicious actors in chat groups, encrypted messaging channels, and other online forums may effectively create echo chambers that circulate and reinforce false narratives and establish a permissive environment for violent action against election-related infrastructure and personnel," the bulletin states.

PHOTO: A NYPD officer stand guard at the closed 57th street at 5th Avenue the night before elections in New York, Nov. 2, 2020.
A NYPD officer stand guard at the closed 57th street at 5th Avenue the night before elections in New York, Nov. 2, 2020.
Kena Betancur/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

In one example of the rhetoric outlined in the document, the NYPD described how a user in an online community asked if there would be "gallows" for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

And on Aug. 26, the bulletin states, a user on a pro-Donald Trump message board "encouraged individuals to 'show up' in 'disguise' at 'one of these political rallies with a ghost gun and shoot your shot.'"

Two weeks earlier, according to the bulletin, an online user targeted the elections department in Arizona's Maricopa County, writing in one message: "Fire the building. Execute the traitors trying to leave it."

PHOTO: NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square in New York, June 1, 2020.
NYPD police officers watch demonstrators in Times Square in New York, June 1, 2020.
AFP via Getty Images, FILE

The NYPD also said that "recent online calls for violence have led to specific and credible threats, and at least one violent incident, resulting in the arrests and prosecutions of individuals who planned to or did target election officials and political figures."

Due to a "smaller security footprint," some local candidates might be easier to target, the bulletin advised, citing the attack this summer against Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin.

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