Livonia man charged with threatening to hang director of elections for Oakland County

A Livonia man walked out of a room where votes that were cast during local elections in Oakland County were being recounted and stated "Hang Joe for treason."

According to the Oakland County Prosecutor's Office, 37-year-old Andrew Hess made the statement in reference to the county's director of elections. The statement was reported to law enforcement.

Hess is now charged with making a false report or threat of terrorism.

The incident happened on Dec. 15 at the county complex in Pontiac. A release from the prosecutor's office said officials were overseeing the recount of several local elections from November last year when Hess made the alleged statement. 

He faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $20,000 if he's convicted.

Prosecutor Karen McDonald said the threats made against election workers impact not just their work, but democracy in general.

"We need dedicated, ethical public servants to conduct that process, and to do it transparently – we should invite public scrutiny. But there are individuals who seek to undermine the integrity of the election process by threatening and intimidating election workers and supervisors," she said.

Hess isn't the only man to be accused of making threats toward election workers in Michigan. The Department of Justice recently secured a guilty plea from an Indiana man who threatened to kill local public officials who said there had been on irregularities during the 2020 election.

That case is among a spur of threats directed toward election officials since the 2020 election, as well as a more general increase in election-related violence. During the 2022 midterms, the DOJ said it would monitor elections in five Michigan cities to ensure voting rights laws were upheld. 

The move came after protesters attempted to break into what was previously called the TCF Center in Detroit where votes were being counted after the 2020 election.