A week into this new year, an election year, election officials and law enforcement have already faced bomb threats and various swatting incidents aimed at election officials around the country. These threats of violence and intimidation are unacceptable and the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections (CSSE) firmly condemns them. Swatting, where false emergency calls are made to draw a heavily armed police – or “SWAT team” – response to a specific location, is dangerous and disruptive.
Law enforcement plays a critical role in preventing and responding to swatting incidents. Swatting attempts to intimidate and silence targeted individuals, and poses a risk to the democratic process and public safety. To help thwart swatting attempts, particularly against those who maintain our free and fair elections, election officials can:
- Ensure your elections office establishes a dialogue with a local police or sheriff representative who may be designated as the elections liaison.
- Provide the liaison with the names and physical home addresses of election officials and key or higher risk staff, specific locations of voting centers and counting facilities, and any other relevant election-related locations within your jurisdiction.
- Ask law enforcement if it’s possible to have a flag put into their computer-aided dispatch system to alert 9-1-1 staff and responding officers of the nature of those locations, with a specific note about concerns regarding swatting.
- Provide police and 9-1-1 staff with 24-hour cell phone numbers for critical elections staff who can be reached in the event of possible false reports.
- Encourage police to confer with federal authorities such as the FBI or DHS on current trends in swatting, as well as ways to spot indicators of swatting calls/reports.
- Establish protocols for communication between elections staff at the local, regional and state levels to share information in the event that one or more jurisdictions experience a swatting call so that others can be alerted to be on the lookout for similar incidents within their jurisdiction.
- Train your staff to remain calm in the event of such an episode in your jurisdiction and consult with your local police on an area-specific protocol to quickly and succinctly relay to responding officers that everyone is safe.
- Maintain best protocols to ensure security plans remain confidential for the safety of the public.
The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections remains committed to promoting safe and secure elections for all Americans. We will not be deterred by these cowardly acts, and we will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that every voice is heard and every vote is counted.