A string of voter intimidation emails that were purportedly sent by the Proud Boys, a self-described militia group, were reported to state and federal law enforcement officials on Tuesday morning, according to Alachua Supervisor of Elections Kim Barton.
Alachua County officials were made aware of the emails on Tuesday morning. In one of the emails, the sender told a voter to “vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you,” according to a copy obtained by the Miami Herald.
“We are in possession of all your information (email, address, telephone… everything),” the message stated. “You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.”
Proud Boy Chairman Henry “Enrique” Tarrio Jr. said the email was “spoofed” and that he notified the FBI and Barton to tell them the group was not behind the emails.
“There is no reason for us to send an email like that. To whoever did this, I condemn these people,” Tarrio said.
CBS reports “an examination of the messages, which are now under investigation by state and federal authorities, shows they were sent via servers located overseas, raising questions about their origin amid concerns about voter intimidation just two weeks before Election Day.
Democratic voters in Alachua County, Florida, began receiving the email on Tuesday morning, and voters in Alaska and Arizona also reported receiving the message. Early voting began in Florida on Monday. The emails appeared to come from the right-wing group The Proud Boys, and showed a “from” address of firstname.lastname@example.org. The Proud Boys has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy group.”
From The Washington Post:
A spokesman for the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said local authorities were coordinating with elections officials and had also sought the assistance of the FBI.
“We believe them to be fraudulent,” the spokesman, Art Forgey, said of the emails.
The domain, officialproudboys.com, was left unsecured because of unpaid hosting fees, meaning anyone on the Internet could have taken control of it and used the site to send out the menacing messages, said Trevor Davis, CEO of Counteraction, a Washington-based digital intelligence firm.
“It appears they allowed their domain to lapse since Oct. 8, which likely made them vulnerable to this kind of hijacking,” Davis said. “Bad actors are constantly scanning the Internet for opportunities. Given the public profile of the Proud Boys and the likelihood that whoever’s sending these emails has access to a voter file, this appears to be opportunism.”