By Tierney Sneed and Holmes Lybrand, CNN
A Massachusetts man was arrested Friday after being indicted by a grand jury for allegedly making a bomb threat last year towards an election official in the Arizona’s Secretary of State office.
“Your attorney general needs to resign by Tuesday February 16th by 9 am or the explosive device impacted in her personal space will be detonated,” the man, James Clark, is alleged to have sent the election official last year, using a message submission form on the secretary of state’s website, according to the Justice Department.
The indictment alleges that, in February 2021, Clark also searched the address of the unidentified Arizona election official online along with “how to kill” the official. Clark also allegedly searched terms around the Boston marathon bombing in 2013, which left three dead and over two hundred injured.
He faces three counts: making a bomb threat, conveying a bomb hoax and making an interstate threat. Clark faces a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison if convicted, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“Illegal threats of violence put election officials and workers at risk and undermine the bedrock of our democracy: free and fair elections,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr. of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said Friday.
Clark had an initial appearance hearing in the Boston federal courthouse on Friday afternoon, according to the court’s docket.
CNN has reached out to the public defender listed as representing Clark.
The department said that the case was brought as part of the Election Threats Task Force that was launched last summer to investigate threats against election officials and workers, which the agency said were on the rise.
Within weeks of the task force’s launch, its activity appeared to be picking up, with CNN reporting last September that local election officials had been in touch with the FBI about threats they had received.
Election officials have said that the hostile environment around their jobs — particularly after the 2020 election, when President Donald Trump and his allies singled out local officials with false election-rigging claims — has led to burnout.
In a poll earlier this year, one in five local election officials surveyed said they are likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election. More than half of the survey’s respondents reported concerns safety of their colleagues in future elections, according to the poll, which was conducted on behalf of the liberal-leaning Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s Law School.
In the past few months alone, the US has seen several major threats against government officials, including an alleged attempted stabbing of Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin last week, and election officials are still experiencing the devastating impact of threats they received following the 2020 election.
Wandrea “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, has publicly testified to the “hateful” and “racist” threats she had received after Trump and others promoted the false conspiracy theories that she was involved in election fraud in the 2020 presidential race.
“A lot of threats, wishing death upon me. Telling me that, you know, I’ll be in jail with my mother and saying things like ‘be glad it’s 2020 and not 1920,'” Moss testified in June before the House select committee investigating January 6.
Legislative pushes in in Congress to address threats against election officials have not been successful, though some state-level measures have moved forward.
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CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this report.