NPR highlighted the findings of an alarming report by the Armed Conflict Event Data and Location Project, which found that discussion among militia groups about the U.S. election is more active and more specific than ever. Five swing states seem to be most at risk for armed followers showing up during the election or the weeks that follow: Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Oregon, according to the report, titled "Standing By."
The ACEDLP, which is known for its work tracking political violence and protests overseas, began monitoring potential disruptions to the U.S. election earlier this year. It teamed up with Militia Watch on the latest report.
NPR added context of other militia experts, who say there's more activity this year. Conspiracy theories about left-wing intervention at the polls are being used to motivate militia followers to show up at voting sites. There are more online conversations, and they're becoming more specific.
"In the conversations that I observe, the heat is higher. The vitriol is greater," said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University who studies right-wing extremism and online spaces.
Gerry Hebert of the Campaign Legal Center told NPR that voting-rights groups are walking a fine line between dealing with these threats and drawing attention to them. If there's too much hype about the militias, people may be afraid to vote, he said.
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