Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) called on lawmakers Thursday to address the rise of swatting incidents related to politicians across the country.
“It is deeply troubling to see a rise in swatting and other physical threats. We expect heightened tensions as we head into a major presidential election,” Raffensperger said in a news release.
“We expect American citizens to engage in the democratic process — not resort to cowardly acts of intimidation,” he continued. “We’re committed to upholding our democratic principles and fighting for an environment in which citizens can freely and safely participate.”
Swatting occurs when a person or multiple individuals call in a false report of an emergency, crime, mass shooting or kidnapping in progress to prompt a police response. They have increased in recent years, often targeting celebrities, political figures and internet livestreamers as a form of online harassment.
The press release from the Georgia secretary of state’s office highlighted a 2016 bill — which he sponsored — that aims to update the consequences related to the “obstruction of public administration and related offenses.” The legislation, if passed, would increase penalties for false alarms from one year in prison up to 10.
Raffensperger, in the release, encouraged lawmakers to take another look at the proposal.
“Secretary Raffensperger calls on all elected officials and community leaders to denounce any form of political violence or intimidation, and to create stricter protections using the language he proposed in 2016,” the release reads. “Having legislation such as this as existing Georgia law would strongly deter future acts of cowardice.”
The push comes after many notable political figures, like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), Rep. Brandon Williams (R-N.Y.) and Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) have recently reported swatting incidents.
“I was just swatted. This is like the 8th time,” Greene said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, on Christmas Day. “On Christmas with my family here. My local police are the GREATEST and shouldn’t have to deal with this.”
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