By Palm Bay Live News Room
Edited by Cathy Oasheim
On Tuesday, several Florida voters registered as Democrats reported receiving threatening emails. The emails in question threatened voters by saying they must “vote for Trump or else!”
One such message reads: “You are currently registered as a Democrat, and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day, or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply.” The emails were sent from email addresses claiming to be associated with the “Proud Boys,” a far-right extremist group often affiliated with anti-establishment and white supremacist organizations. However, some early investigation shows that the messages appear to have originated from IP addresses linked to servers located in Russia, Ukraine, Iran, and Estonia but, it is important to note that server location is not always indicative of sender location. The Proud Boys chairman has denied the group is behind the messages.
The messages have sparked local and national investigations.
It is estimated that thousands of voters throughout various Florida counties received the emails.
The Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) posted on Twitter that the agency is “aware of threatening emails with misleading info about the secrecy of your vote” They further acknowledge that the emails are “meant to intimidate and undermine American voters’ confidence in our elections.”
The CISA has provided voters with a FAQ guide to help voters navigate (cisa.gov.rumorcontrol) the various scams and inaccuracies that occur as part of the upcoming election, emphasizing “that while things like voting history, registered party, and contact information are public records, whom you vote for, also known as ballot secrecy, is guaranteed private by law in all states.”
The FBI also states, “Though the FBI’s standard practice is to confirm neither nor deny any investigation, we take all election-related threats seriously, whether it is vote fraud, voter suppression, or threats from cyber or foreign influence actors. We are committed to supporting our election security partners and protecting our communities as Americans exercise their right to vote. “
The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office states, “On Tuesday, Brevard citizens know they were aware of the emails and that an investigation is active and ongoing.”
Sheriff Wayne Ivey stated, “In America, every registered voter is afforded the right to participate in the electoral process and deserves to do so without intimidation or influence. Please know that everyone in our community is safe to go to the polls throughout the election process. While these emails appear concerning, the investigation to date has determined the emails originated from outside the continental United States and are not considered a valid threat but were sent with a morally corrupt agenda. Please do not allow this or any other action by anyone to intimidate or dissuade you from your right as an American to cast your ballot for the candidate(s) of your choosing during early voting or on Election Day.”
The Sheriff wants suspicious emails to be reported to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office via the Communications Center at (321)633-7162.
Current Voter Turnout
These email tactics, while concerning and unethical, are not surprising. This election season has seen some of the most contentious debates and tightest races between opponents at the local, state, and national levels. This contention has already resulted in a greater than expected turnout at the polls.
As of today, October 22, 2020, 59,272 Registered Democrats have cast their vote in Brevard, with 45,429 of those submitted by mail and 13,838 cast in-person through early voting. Brevard Republicans have cast more with 62,943 total votes, 38,460 by mail-in ballot, and 24,480 in-person, first votes. Those in Brevard with No Party Affiliation have a turnout of 27,807 people to vote, another 20,132 by mail, and 7,672 taking advantage of in-person, early voting.
As you can see, citizens are taking this election seriously and are exercising their right to vote before election day. Of the 452,160 total active, eligible voters in Brevard, 152,383 have consistently made their voice heard, with a turnout of over 34% at the polls!