CHEROKEE COUNTY, Ga. — As the political world focuses on Georgia for Tuesday’s Senate runoff election so does the watchful eye of law enforcement.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne has learned that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating “specific threats.”
“The GBI has been made aware of specific threats regarding Tuesday’s upcoming election. Our agency is working with federal, state, and local partners to investigate them. The goal is to ensure a safe election and that all voters have access to polling locations,” the GBI said in a statement to Channel 2 Action News.
“There’s been a threat to polling places in 10 counties in the state of Georgia,” GBI director Vic Reynolds said.
“What can you tell people about whether it’s safe to vote in these counties?” Winne asked Reynolds.
“What I would certainly tell anyone who is contemplating going to the polls tomorrow to go do that. I feel comfortable that they should do it, that they will be safe doing it,” Reynolds said.
Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said as four Georgia U.S. Senate candidates wrap up their runoff campaigns heading into Tuesday, somebody’s been on an email campaign of threats with officials in at least 10 Georgia counties getting profanity laced messages threatening detonations and even alluding to the Boston Marathon bombing.
“We’re not going to put up with this kind of behavior,” Fuchs said.
“We’re monitoring it literally minute-by-minute with our intelligence network,” Reynolds said.
“Are the emails the subject of a criminal investigation?” Winne asked Reynolds.
“They are. You know our goal at this point is to find out who the sender is. We’re working with our federal partners to accomplish that goal,” Reynolds said.
Fuchs said all or most of the counties of which she is aware – Spalding, Cherokee, Floyd, Bulloch, Paulding, Glynn, Laurens, Jackson, Franklin and Barrow-- are Republican-leaning counties, and even though the sender suggests he or she is a Trump supporter, Fuchs said the sender is “clearly somebody...trying to intimidate Republican voters and suppress Republican turnout come Tuesday.”
The FBI Atlanta field office emailed a statement saying: “We take all threats seriously and are in communication with our local, state and federal partners. As always, we ask everyone to be aware of their surroundings and report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
“We, the GBI, have pushed out this information to the locals. It’s certainly a local responsibility to make sure that the polling precincts are safe but I’m comfortable in telling you at this point I think they are,” Reynolds said.
A Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office post said prior to the report of the threatening emails, arrangements had already been made to have Cherokee sheriff’s deputies, Cherokee County marshals, municipal police and Cherokee County School Police officers at every polling station in Cherokee County.
Georgia Sheriffs Association executive director Terry Norris said he has spoken to the sheriffs in most of the 10 counties known to have gotten the threat emails, and even before the emails, all the sheriffs to whom he spoke were prepared to secure polling places. There’s heightened awareness now.
At least some will be doing sweeps of polling places and every sheriff to whom Winne spoke on Monday said the polls will be safe and people should vote.
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