Bomb threat against Spalding Elections Office, local polling locations under GBI investigation

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

Spalding County Election Supervisor Marcia Ridley on Saturday received an email threatening acts of violence against the Elections Office and local polling sites.

A report was made to Spalding County Sheriff Darrell Dix, who in turn contacted state officials.

“I was notified of it and I immediately contacted the Georgia Bureau of investigation because of the direct threat to the Elections Office and polling sites, and it has been turned over to their Anti-Terrorism Task Force,” Dix said. “I also at the same time reached out to city of griffin police chief Mike Yates since some of the polling places are inside the city of Griffin.”

The GBI has launched an investigation into the bomb threats made against the Spalding County Election Office and several others around the state.

“It seems that Spalding County was one of about ten counties whose election offices received a threatening letter that was very vile, full of profanity and racial slurs, Saturday afternoon,” Dix said, later adding that the same email was sent to locations across the country.

Dix said the email originated from an address that was “like a spoofed email address from the dark web.”

He said the threatening email was egregious.

“It was horrible. Horrible. The threats, the racial slurs, the profanity. You know, it was just horrible,” he said.

Dix also said residents who turn out to vote in the Jan. 5 Senate runoff should not be concerned by the presence of deputies.

“We will have deputies at all polling places tomorrow. It’s not to intimidate anybody or because anyone is expecting anything to happen tomorrow. It’s actually a constitutional requirement to have deputies at all polling place,” he explained.

When asked if he considers the email to constitute a credible threat or attempted voter suppression, Dix said, “I think that you have to take the threat seriously, just like you have to take any threat seriously because when it comes to people like this, sometimes they are unhinged, but I think it’s just their way of derailing people from going to the polls, to intimidate people from going to the polls because they may not like the potential outcome.”

Dix stressed that this incident should not deter voters from turning out Tuesday to cast ballots in the Senate runoff.

“People that make these types of threats are keyboard cowards. Their belief is that if they can say enough vile stuff and enough threatening stuff, it will intimidate people – no matter what party you’re with – from going to the polls, but that’s not going to happen. People will go to the polls,” he said.

Even so, Dix sought to reassure residents, saying the threat is being taken seriously and is under investigation.

“You can’t take it for granted. You can’t,” Dix said. “Thirty or forty years ago you may have been able to say this is just some loon, some crackpot, but in 2021, with the way things are going, you can’t take things like this with a grain of salt. You have to follow up on them.”

Dix said that actions such as this threat of violence go far beyond routine differences of political opinion.

“It’s one thing to disagree with an election or the results of an election but I think everyone will agree that when you start talking about hurting people, harming people because of your beliefs, I think we can all agree that you’ve pushed the line too far when you’ve done that,” he said.

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