Election Protection Identifies Doxxing of Florida Election Officials on Social Media, Law Enforcement Notified
November 14, 2018
WASHINGTON – Yesterday morning, Election Protection discovered Facebook and Twitter posts doxxing south Florida election officials. The posts target Brenda Snipes, the Supervisor of Elections of Broward County, and Susan Bucher, the Supervisor of Elections of Palm Beach County. Both are women of color. The posts disclose the officials’ names, addresses, phone numbers, photos, and photos of their homes.
Election Protection immediately reported this content to Facebook and Twitter, who promptly removed it from their sites. Election Protection also notified Ms. Snipes and Ms. Bucher directly and reported this incident to the FBI and U.S. Department of Justice.
The posts were made primarily on Facebook by an individual whose Facebook account is dominated by Confederate flags and imagery; his profile picture is a statue of Jefferson Davis and his car is covered in Confederate symbols and stickers. This person shared the content on a number of Facebook Pages, including “Confederate Resistance.” A few other individuals likewise shared the information on Facebook and Twitter.
Election Protection is the largest national, nonpartisan, nonprofit voting rights coalition; it operates a voter information hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) that voters can call if they encounter trouble voting or see issues at the polls. Election Protection is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and received direct assistance in this matter from Common Cause and an outside researcher.
“Doxxing of this nature creates an imminent safety risk for the targeted individuals, can intimidate election officials and communities, and could constitute unlawful interference with the electoral process,” said David Brody, Counsel & Senior Fellow for Privacy and Technology at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “That two women of color were specifically targeted for their role in officiating a federal election is especially concerning.”
“The harassment and smear campaign against Florida elections officials is reckless and undemocratic and elected officials should not be encouraging it as they have through very public criticisms,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “It is helpful that Facebook relies on groups like Common Cause and the Lawyer’s Committee to flag these violations, but there should be better tools in place to identify and remove these types of posts faster. The social media companies need to take proactive steps to enforce their own rules more vigorously and more quickly.”