Poll monitoring raises specter of election violence. Is it real?

On the eve of midterm elections in America – as Jan. 6 insurrectionists remain on trial, as candidates nationwide deny the results from 2020, as the president warns of a “path to chaos” – experts on voting and extremism want to make two things clear.

First, voting in the United States remains extraordinarily safe. 

Second, as millions of Americans still seethe over the 2020 election and cast doubt on the fairness of the electoral process, spurred on by lies and disinformation, the possibility remains of tense confrontations or even violence at polling places this week.

Election workers are stepping down in droves after being harassed and threatened, misinformation has ramped up, and volunteer groups are stepping in with de-escalation training to be used at polling places. 

Organizations pushing spurious claims of voter fraud now call for volunteers to patrol polling stations and election infrastructure in some states. That raises the likelihood of tense interactions between election critics and election officials and voters. 

Meanwhile, observers worry increased tensions could also come in the days and weeks post-election, especially in communities where election deniers are on the ballot or where election results are especially close or delayed.

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