A queer voter in Florida has made public a threatening email allegedly from the Proud Boys hate group demanding that he vote for Donald Trump’s reelection.
The email included the voter’s personal information and suggested the sender would know if the voter did not support the president. The subject line? “Vote for Trump or else!”
The voter shared the message with Equality Florida, the largest LGBTQ+ rights group in the state. The organization called for a federal investigation of the messages.
“If these emails did originate from the Proud Boys, it would amount to a grave attack on democracy by one of the most prominent hate groups in the country with the goal of helping secure Donald Trump’s reelection,” Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, said in a press release.
The email reads, “[Voter name] we are in possession of all your information You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you. [voter address] good luck.”
While the email did not make any direct reference to the voter's sexuality, Equality Florida officials said the voter who provided them with the message identified as a member of the LGBTQ+ community.
The voter who provided this message comes from Gainesville, a Democratic-learning city in Florida, the largest swing state. Similar emails have been sent to voters in the Daytona Beach area, Florida Today reports.
Polls right now show Democrat Joe Biden leading Trump in Florida by an average of 1.6 percentage points, according to Real Clear Politics. The state’s 29 electoral votes are considered a must-win for Trump to have any shot at a second term.
It’s noteworthy that the email contained no personal information that is not publicly available in Florida voter databases. The public records disclose voters’ party registration, name and any provided address. However, there’s no way to know for whom voters cast their ballots.
The local sheriff and supervisor of elections in Gainesville already determined the email to be a “scam.”
“We will be initiating an investigation into the source of the email along with assistance from our partners on the federal level,” reads a joint statement from the local officials.
The email appears to have originated from an address tied to the domain officialproudboys.com. Notably, that website just Monday was shut down by its webhost.
The Proud Boys, a recognized white supremacist hate group, earned some national attention after the first presidential debate when Trump, asked to condemn white supremacy, told the group to “stand back and stand by.”
Shortly thereafter, the group's name was co-opted on social media by queer Twitter users showing images of gay love, which prompted outrage by group members on conservative sites like Parler. There, users slammed the images with homophobic slurs.