Detroit/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on July 10, 2024
Indiana Man Sentenced to 14 Months for Threatening Michigan Election Worker Post 2020 ElectionSource: Google Street View

An Indiana man, Andrew Nickels, has been sentenced to 14 months in prison for sending threats of violence to a Michigan election worker following the November 2020 election. As reported by The Detroit News, Nickels, 38, from Carmel, Indiana, pleaded guilty to one count of making a threatening interstate communication and could have faced up to five years in prison. The victim, former Rochester Hills Clerk Tina Barton, was threatened after she defended the integrity of the 2020 presidential election results.

U.S. District Judge Laurie Michelson imposed the 14-month sentence, although federal prosecutors had sought two years. In a voice message, Nickels accused Barton of defrauding America and threatened her life, saying that “10 million-plus patriots will surround you when you least expect it, and your little infantile Deep State security agency has no time to protect you because they’ll be bought out and we’ll f------ kill you,” according to a sentencing memorandum, as per The Detroit News. The Justice Department has made it clear it will strongly pursue and prosecute such threats to ensure people can actively participate in the administration of elections without fear for their safety.

In her statement provided by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, Barton expressed the trauma she has faced, stating, "Never in my life could I have imagined that after all the time, energy, and commitment to upholding the integrity of our democratic process, to serving the people with honor and diligence, I would be met with such malice and hateful language," as cited by The Detroit News. She also highlighted the broader impact of such actions on election officials across the country, many of whom have faced similar instances of harassment or threats.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson referred to Barton as "an American hero" for her work during the 2020 election, and Paul Penzone, chair of the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, hopes the sentencing will deter others from similar misconduct. "Today’s sentencing is a signal to election officials across the country that threats against them will be taken seriously and those who engage in such behavior will be held accountable", Penzone said in a statement reported by The Detroit News.

According to a release from the Justice Department, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland voiced the department's commitment to protecting election workers, stating that "The Justice Department has no tolerance for violent threats against election workers, officials, and volunteers, and as this case demonstrates, we will aggressively investigate and prosecute such threats to the fullest extent of the law”. Nickels was prosecuted under the Justice Department's Election Threats Task Force, an initiative emphasizing the importance of election workers’ safety and the integrity of the democratic process.