Democratic voters in four states have received threatening emails from the right-wing extremist group the Proud Boys. The emails tell recipients that the Proud Boys will “come after” them unless they switch party affiliation and cast their ballots for President Trump.
The U.S. government has concluded that the emails came from Iran.
Voters in Pennsylvania, Arizona, Florida, and Alaska received messages including the recipients’ full names, home address, and party affiliation from email@example.com, a domain name registered to and owned by members of the group since 2017.
“…[W]e are in possession of all your information 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… We will know which candidate you voted for,” the messages stated.
Leaders of the Proud Boys have denied sending the emails in statements to the news organizations and on social media. Metadata and headers from the messages have been traced to other countries, including servers in Estonia and Saudia Arabia, suggesting that the senders had either spoofed or hacked the originating domain name. The goal is clearly voter suppression.
Some election security experts have suggested that the emails may be part of a larger operation to influence or disrupt the November 3 election.
Despite the claims to be in possession of more data on their targets, voter information such as birth dates, email addresses and party affiliations are in the public record in several states, including Florida.
The FBI is currently investigating the emails.
NOTE: This article was updated to reflect the recent announcement by the US Department of Homeland Security announcing Iran as being responsible for the emails.