Lincoln man gets 18 months in prison for threats to Colorado election official

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LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Lincoln man was sentenced Thursday to 18 months in prison for online threats he made against Colorado’s top elections official.

Travis Ford was sentenced in U.S. District Court after pleading guilty in June to sending threats to Secretary of State Jena Griswold on social media.

It was one of the first cases brought by a federal task force devoted to protecting election workers nationwide from threats.

Griswold is a national advocate for election security who has received thousands of threats over her insistence that the 2020 election was secure and that former President Donald Trump’s claims that it was stolen from him are false.

After serving his prison term, Ford must complete a year of supervision. He must report to a federal prison on Jan. 11.

Federal prosecutors had sought a two-year prison sentence for Ford, saying, “There is a genuine need for general deterrence here.”

Investigators discovered that Ford made the threats of violence numerous times last year over an Instagram account started by his brother to which Ford had gained access.

Prosecutors also noted in their sentencing request that Ford had also used the account to make death threats against President Joe Biden and “a CEO of a major technology company.”

Griswold a series of threatening messages over Instagram in August 2021.

One said, “Do you feel safe? You shouldn’t.” Another: “Your security detail is far too thin and incompetent to protect you. This world is unpredictable these days … anything can happen to anyone.”

Federal officials said there was little to explain why Ford resorted to making the threats, noting that he has a loving relationship with his immediate family and fiancé, that he is in good health and had earned a good living until his prosecution.

“Although the government does not currently have reason to believe that defendant will commit similar offenses here in the future, threats to elections workers across the country are an ongoing and very serious problem,” prosecutors said in their sentencing recommendation.

They added that one recent survey found that one in six election officials have experienced threats because of their job, and 77% have said they feel that the threats have increased in recent years.

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