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Erica R. Hendry
Erica R. Hendry
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Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a Georgia elections worker who became a target of former President Donald Trump’s false claims of voter fraud, told the House Jan. 6 committee that her life was turned upside down after the former president and his allies accused her and her mother of being behind a fake ballot scheme.
Moss appeared before the committee June 21 for its fourth day of public hearings, which examined how Trump pressured state officials to change election results.
READ MORE: Who are the witnesses testifying at the Jan. 6 hearings?
She and her mother, Ruby Freeman, were election workers in Fulton County, Georgia, during the 2020 election.
Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani and other allies of the former president repeatedly promoted the false conspiracy theory that election workers in the county tampered with the vote count to tilt the race toward Joe Biden. They pointed to a video posted by a conservative PAC that purported to show election workers — including Moss and her mother — packing ballots into “suitcases.” As reported by USA Today and other fact checkers, election workers were packing absentee ballots into storage containers because they thought the day’s counting was done.
The former president mentioned Moss’ name 18 times in a call with the secretary of state alleging voter fraud, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said during the June 21 hearing.
She and her mother faced death threats and harassment as a result.
Moss said in her testimony that she discovered her name had been used by Trump and his allies when election officials called her into their office, saying they’d received threats and asking if she had been targeted. In her Facebook Messenger app, she found dozens of threats and death threats, many of them racist in nature.
Both Moss and her mother, along with her grandmother, were targeted by death threats, she testified before the committee. At the suggestion of the FBI, Freeman said she left her home for about two months for her safety, through the events of Jan. 6 and the inauguration.
In video testimony played by the committee, Freeman said she doesn’t introduce herself by name anymore and gets worried when she gives her name for food orders or at the grocery store.
“I’ve lost my name and I’ve lost my reputation. I’ve lost my sense of security all because a group of people people starting with Number 45 and his ally Rudy Giuliani decided to scapegoat me and my daughter, Shaye, to push their own lies about how the presidential election was stolen,” Freeman said. “There is nowhere I feel safe, nowhere. Do you know how it feels to have the president of the United States target you? The president of the United States is supposed to represent every American, not to target one. He targeted me, lady ruby, a small business owner, mother, proud American citizen. Stood up to help Fulton county run an election in the middle of the pandemic.”
Moss said she “felt horrible for picking this job and being the one that always wants to help, always there, never missing one election. I felt like it was my fault putting my family in the situation.”
The experience “turned my life upside down. I no longer give out my business card. I don’t transfer calls. I don’t want anyone knowing my name,” she added. “I second-guess everything that I do. It has affected my life in a major way.”
Moss and her mother have since filed defamation lawsuits against Giuliani and other media outlets who spread misinformation with the video. One of them, against One America News network, was settled in April, AJC reported.
Moss said during her testimony June 21 that she became an election worker because her family had throughout her life stressed the importance of voting, a right that her grandmother often pointed out was not available to generations before her. She loved helping connect people to the process, she said.
When asked by Schiff how many workers remained in their jobs after the 2020 election, Moss responded that no permanent election worker or supervisor was still at their jobs — including her.
Moss was one of five recipients for this year’s John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, given to public officials who protect U.S. democracy. Moss was honored for “doing the hard and unseen work to run our democracy.”
Erica R. Hendry is the managing editor for digital at PBS NewsHour.
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