The Big Scare: Violence at the polls didn’t materialize

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON — Headlines everywhere for months were startling, frightening.

“Concerns of Violence grow as Election Day nears.”

As Election Day approaches, political violence escalates and America’s racist history repeats itself.” 

“A spiral of violence and fear is creating angst for many voters ahead of the midterm elections.”

Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” was stirring up rage-filled conservatives who were going to take out their anger on poll workers and voters, or so said the fear mongers. The riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 were just the beginning of a red wave of blood and terror, they told us.

None of that happened. Instead, the left brought the 2022 midterm elections the Big Scare, driven by an overheated corporate media and a Democratic Party that used its usual media tools to help them “save democracy” by scaring the hell out of voters.

It turns out, the only thing real about the frightening predictions of violence at the polls was the fear it engendered in the American public.

A review of news coverage from battleground states declared ripe for political violence finds few incidents of actual threats, let alone actual violence. Observers on both sides of the aisle report last week’s elections functioned peacefully and well.

That’s not to say some election officials around the country haven’t endured hostile communications, including threatening language, since the bitter 2020 presidential election. But even the Biden administration, which did everything it could to gin up the tired insurrection narrative, noted just days before the election that “no specific credible threats” had been identified by law enforcement.

“Americans should feel safe going to the polls. It is important for Americans to do so,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Election Day Eve.

As is often the case, the flack’s words did not comport with President Joe Biden’s fiery speech less than a week before the election when he urged Americans to “not allow the dark forces that thirst for power” to destroy American democracy. Those “dark forces”, of course, are his political enemies — also known as Republicans, or about half of the country.

Biden was criticized for his broad-stroke painting and fear-mongering, something his party has repeatedly done in labelling any conservative with questions about the running of elections as an “election denier” or worse. But much of the so-called Fourth Estate have gone along for the ride.

Spiraling 

Fear porn peddlers did their job well. An ABC News/Washington Post poll not long before Election Day found a whopping 88 percent of adults were worried political divisions in the country are so raw that there’s an increased risk of politically motivated violence. Such “angst for many voters” is understandable amid screaming headlines about a “spiral of violence and fear.”

“We could be six days away from losing our rule of law,” warned historian Michael Beschloss, who wondered whether “our children will be arrested and conceivably killed.”

In battleground Michigan, PBS reported that a threat of political violence loomed over several races.

“Election officials in Michigan are especially worried as the midterms approach and multiple election deniers are on the ballot,” Laura Barrón-López reported.

The PBS reporter interviewed Cheryl Rottmann, city clerk for Madison Heights, a small suburb of Detroit. Rottmann said she had never had so much anxiety “as far as making sure everybody is safe, including myself and my workers.”

Barron-Lopez explained that Rottman had every reason to be scared. After the civil unrest at the U.S. Capitol in early January 2021, “the continued spread of lies about the 2020 presidential election and threats” was keeping election officials up at night.

Rottman did not return Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment. The Madison Heights Police Department did, however, and said there was not a single incident of political threats or actual violence from the community’s polls.

“Well, that was a dud. Not the abortive ‘red wave,’ but the Democratic expectation (read: ill-disguised hope) that ‘election deniers’ would disrupt polling places on Tuesday with violence and intimidation,” wrote Heather Mac Donald, Fellow at the Manhattan Institute in a City Journal piece headlined, “The Other Imaginary Red Wave.”

“None of these predictions panned out. There was no electoral violence or intimidation. No one mobbed ballot boxes or election offices,” Mac Donald added.

Growing threat narrative 

The liberal Brennan Center for Justice vigorously started pushing the violence at the polls narrative early and often. In March, the George Soros-funded group published a report asserting that attacks against election officials were taking a toll. The Center claimed that more than half of the 600 local election officials it contacted said they were concerned about the safety of their colleagues. Nearly one in three knew at least one colleague who quit over safety fears, according to the poll.

There is no doubt that some election workers have experienced threats and intimidation. Officials warned of election worker shortages in the face of so much fear.

But however real the pre-election period threats may have been, there were few incidents of actual violence leading up to and on Election Day. Perhaps one of the more alarming cases involved a man who walked into a West Bend, Wis. polling site armed with a knife and yelled out, “Stop the voting.” The criminal complaint, however, revealed that 38-year-old Michael Miecielica did so hoping to invoke a police response. He told authorities he “should go to jail” because he was “a bad man.”

While Miecielica has been charged with making election threats, terror threats and endangering safety with the of a dangerous weapon, the prosecution and defense noted mental health concerns. He was quickly taken into custody without incident.

Similar mental illness questions surround the man who attacked Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband, Paul, with a hammer at the couple’s gated San Francisco home late last month. Democrats, particularly Nancy Pelosi and Biden, have used that assault as a political cudgel leading up to the election.

The Manhattan Institute’s Mac Donald says predictions of right-wing violence are now a standard feature of Democratic rhetoric. The “violent election-deniers” narrative is a subset of the larger white supremacist conceit so beloved by Biden.

Mac Donald writes:

In the lead-up to January 6, 2022 (the one-year anniversary of the 2021 Capitol riot), the media, politicians, and the Biden national-security apparatus warned that “domestic violent extremists” were likely to strike again. Washington, D.C., was reportedly on edge in anticipation of the MAGA rebels. As it turned out, January 6, 2022, was notable only for the maudlin theatrics of newly patriotic Democrats, who softly sang “God Bless America” in a candlelight vigil on the Capitol steps, as calm engulfed them. 

Despite the Biden Justice Department’s chest-pounding over the president’s political enemies, law enforcement has found relative few actionable incidents of violence against poll workers.

As of early November there had been just eight cases involving threats to election workers, according to a DOJ election security task force. As ABC reported, the task force had reviewed “over 1,000″ reports of threats, though only 11% had met the threshold for federal criminal investigation.” Many of the “threats” may have been angry words, but words protected under the First Amendment.

“While many of the contacts were often hostile, harassing, and abusive towards election officials, they did not include a threat of unlawful violence,” an August press release from DOJ said.

Long-time Wisconsin political consultant Mark Graul said the 2022 midterms proved that the republic can still “do elections and do them well and do them in the right way that’s fair and honest and above board.”

“There was no right-wing violence going on and there wasn’t rampant cheating going on here, either,” Graul said.

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 14, 2022

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One response to “The Big Scare: Violence at the polls didn’t materialize”

  1. David Krantz Avatar
    David Krantz

    Only people who were hoping for “violence at the polls”, most likely far left wing agitators, were actually expecting it.

    Everyone else, more than likely conservative or center-right voters, went in a voted without experiencing or trying to drum up issues.

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