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ADL Issues Guide for States and Municipalities on Countering Potential Election-Motivated Violent Extremism in 2020

  • October 8, 2020

October 8, 2020 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) is distributing guidance for state governments and local municipalities with a series of best practices for countering the possibility of election-motivated violence on or after the general election on November 3. The goal is to ensure that voters can feel safe and secure going to the polls and afterwards. 

“With so much at stake in this election, we cannot allow extremist groups to sow division and chaos during and after balloting. State and local governments need the tools to understand the threat of violent extremism,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “There is no cause for panic, but there is cause for concern. That’s why we are working with local governments to craft tailored approaches to countering violent extremism while preserving individual rights and liberties. The more governments do in the next three weeks, the safer voters will feel going to the polls.”

ADL Southwest Regional Director Mark B. Toubin said his office was working with local law enforcement officials and public officials to provide resources which could assist in their ability to protect voters and to respond to any issues that might occur. “ADL wants to do everything it can to ensure that voting is safe and secure,” Toubin said.

The guide, “Countering Election-Motivated Violent Extremism in 2020 and Beyond” was developed in response to concerns from public officials about the potential for extremist groups to exploit the 2020 election should there be a contested election or narrow victory by either presidential candidate. ADL’s guide is designed to provide state and local governments with practical tools and concepts to help them prepare strategies to identify, prevent and counter violent extremism associated with the election.

While ADL is not aware of any immediate threats of extremist violence, the report notes that “the potential for violent conflict associated with the election is high, both during voting and in the weeks and months following Election Day.” The guide is being distributed through ADL’s network of 25 regional offices across the country to governors, local mayors, local law enforcement administrators, state attorneys general and nonprofit coalition partners, among others.

The guide identifies potential threats from various violence prone extremist groups, including Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, white supremacists and anti-government militias on the far right; and Antifa, anarchists and other groups on the far left.

Some of the Top 7 recommendations for city and state leaders include:

  • Prioritizing criminal justice sector efforts to address violent extremism, and consider raising that priority between November 2020 and February 2021;
  • Increasing coordination and information sharing among local law enforcement and state agencies, which could include forming a task force to prevent and counter violent extremism;
  • Investing in community level resources to off-ramp individuals before they choose a violent path;
  • Diverting proximity of protests and counter-protests;
  • Understand and be prepared to utilize relevant state and local laws to prevent conditions that can lead to violence, and prosecute acts of violent extremism.

First and foremost, ADL urges state and local leaders to use their bully pulpits to convey trust and legitimacy and emphasize that violence will not be tolerated. ADL is working with leaders nationwide to help tackle these challenges and is proud to be a critical source of information for state and local leaders tackling these challenges.