Federal law enforcement agencies are warning of a “heightened threat” of domestic extremist violence that could erupt around the time of the 2022 midterm elections.
An intelligence bulletin from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the FBI, the National Counterterrorism Center and the U.S. Capitol Police warned that “perceptions” of election fraud following the elections could spark violence.
“We assess that election-related perceptions of fraud and DVE [domestic violent extremist] reactions to divisive topics will likely drive sporadic DVE plotting of violence and broader efforts to justify violence in the lead up to and following the 2022 midterm election cycle,” the bulletin stated. “Following the 2022 midterm election, perceptions of election-related fraud and dissatisfaction with electoral outcomes likely will result in heightened threats of violence against a broad range of targets ― such as ideological opponents and election workers.”
The bulletin warned local agencies to monitor potential targets of violence, particularly “election-related infrastructure, personnel and voters involved in the election process.”
Locations such as polling places, ballot drop box locations, voter registration sites, campaign events and political party offices were also mentioned as possible hot spots.
“Potential targets of DVE violence include candidates running for public office, elected officials, election workers, political rallies, political party representatives, racial and religious minorities, or perceived ideological opponents,” the bulletin stated.
The warnings come after an attacker broke into Nancy Pelosi’s home in San Francisco and assaulted her husband early in the morning on October 28.
Husband Paul Pelosi was hit in the head with a hammer and suffered a fractured skull in the attack. He underwent surgery and is expected to recover.
Federal agencies warn that the motives behind possible attacks stem from ideological grievances and perceptions of widespread election fraud.
The NYPD released a statement warning that election poll workers could be targeted.
“However, hostile rhetoric and an abundance of generalized threats from likeminded [extremists] and malicious actors in chat groups, encrypted messaging channels and other online forums may effectively create echo chambers that circulate and reinforce false narratives and establish a permissive environment for violent action against election-related infrastructure and personnel,” the NYPD bulletin said.
In the bulletin, the NYPD also warned of rhetoric on social media that contained violent threats, citing an example on platform Gab where a user wrote, “Death penalty for election fraud! Make traitors hang again!”
“From mid-September to early October, users across ultranationalist and QAnon extremist forums called for adherents to become ‘poll challengers’ and encouraged violence, intimidation tactics and the sabotage of voting machines, if they believed they witnessed ‘fraud’ and ‘cheating’ at the polls,” the NYPD bulletin added.
Domestic terror investigations have nearly doubled since the January 6, 2020, Capitol riot, according to data released by the FBI and DHS.