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A line of voters wraps around the elections building in Canton during the 2018 midterm election

Federal and state law enforcement agencies are investigating a threat of violence made targeting Cherokee County polling places on Tuesday, the date for runoffs that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.

According to Capt. Jay Baker, director of communications for the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office:

“Saturday afternoon, Jan. 2, the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office learned of a threatening email that was sent to several Cherokee County employees regarding threats to polling locations on Election Day,” Baker said. “The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Federal Bureau of Investigation were notified, and an investigation into the emails began.”

Similar threats have been made to officials in other Georgia counties as well.

“There are 40 polling locations in Cherokee County. Prior to the report of the threatening emails, arrangements had already been made to have Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies, Cherokee County marshals, municipal police and Cherokee County School Police officers at every polling station in Cherokee County,” Baker said. “Sheriff Frank Reynolds, along with other law enforcement agencies are working with the Cherokee County Office of Elections and Voter Registration to ensure those voting on Election Day are safe.”

Tuesday’s runoffs pit incumbent Republican Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue against Democrats the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff respectively. If Republicans win one or both of the seats they retain the majority in the Senate. If both Democrats win, seats will be split 50-50 between the parties, leaving incoming Vice President Kamala Harris to break any tie votes.

The threats come amid a contentious political environment. A Texas-based conservative group, True The Vote has sought to preemptively challenge the eligibility of more than 360,000 registered voters across the state, including 16,000 in Cherokee County. Last week the Cherokee County Board of Elections rejected the challenge after the board’s lawyer said what True The Vote sought is against state law. Instead the board will have staff work through the list after the runoffs to determine the voters’ eligibility. Also, President Trump and some of his allies are still contesting the Nov. 3 General Election that Trump lost. The president and supporters have made repeated allegations of widespread fraud that dozens of courts and elections officials have said are without evidence.

Polls here and across the state are open tomorrow from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. for in-person voting. Early voting ended last week.

Monday will see President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in the state campaigning for Loeffler and Perdue, while President-elect Joe Biden is coming to Georgia to stump for Ossoff and Warnock. Harris campaigned for the Democratic candidates on Sunday in Savannah.

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Managing Editor

Gary Tanner is managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune, Cherokee Ledger-News and Cherokee Life magazine. He has been working as a journalist since 1985.

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