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Local election workers fear threats to their safety as November nears. One group is trying to help

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Local election workers fear threats to their safety as November nears. One group is trying to help
News

News

Local election workers fear threats to their safety as November nears. One group is trying to help

2024-04-22 12:08 Last Updated At:12:21

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The group gathered inside the conference room, mostly women, fell silent as the audio recording began to play.

The male voice, clearly agitated, railed against what he thought had been fraud that cost former President Donald Trump reelection four years ago.

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Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The group gathered inside the conference room, mostly women, fell silent as the audio recording began to play.

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse county clerk Benjamin Marentette speaks at a conference held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Marentette said training sessions like the one in Traverse City are crucial to make sure local election offices and law enforcement are communicating. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse county clerk Benjamin Marentette speaks at a conference held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Marentette said training sessions like the one in Traverse City are crucial to make sure local election offices and law enforcement are communicating. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Suzanne Courtade, clerk of East Bay Township, attends a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Courtade says she not only plans to stay for the November election but is running for another term despite being harassed in the aftermath of the 2020 election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Suzanne Courtade, clerk of East Bay Township, attends a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Courtade says she not only plans to stay for the November election but is running for another term despite being harassed in the aftermath of the 2020 election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Justin Smith, a retired Colorado sherriff from Larimer County, Colo., speaks during a recording for the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections during a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping prepare for what could lie ahead. Smith signed up after retiring last year and hearing from local election officials about the threats they have faced since 2020. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Justin Smith, a retired Colorado sherriff from Larimer County, Colo., speaks during a recording for the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections during a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping prepare for what could lie ahead. Smith signed up after retiring last year and hearing from local election officials about the threats they have faced since 2020. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Tina Barton, a former election clerk, speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Barton, who was overseeing elections in Rochester Hills, Mich., spoke about receiving a threatening voicemail a week after the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Tina Barton, a former election clerk, speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Barton, who was overseeing elections in Rochester Hills, Mich., spoke about receiving a threatening voicemail a week after the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

“You’re gonna pay for it,” said the man, filling his message with expletives and suggesting his target's throat be slashed with a knife. “We will … take you out. Your family, your life.

"Watch your … back."

The call had been directed at one of their own, a city clerk who had overseen elections in 2020 in suburban Detroit. The former clerk, Tina Barton, played the recording of the call she had received to an audience that included several dozen local election clerks and law enforcement officials who had gathered recently inside an office building conference room in northern Michigan.

“I want you to understand this voicemail is the same type of thing that we’re seeing across the country, and it can find you anywhere you are — small community, large community, Michigan, Arizona. It can find you,” said Barton, who was overseeing elections in Rochester Hills when she received the voicemail a week after the 2020 presidential election.

The recent gathering in Traverse City, a picturesque community on the shores of Lake Michigan in a county that has twice voted for Trump, was part of a national effort to train local election workers on how they can respond to threats and work with law enforcement to counter them.

As the nation barrels toward another highly charged presidential election, the threats to election offices that have been an alarming consequence of Trump’s false claims about his 2020 loss loom as a perilous wildcard for the thousands of local government workers who will oversee the indispensable infrastructure of the nation’s democracy. The constant threats and harassment have contributed to an exodus of election officials across the country.

Barton understands the pressure they are under and has been on a mission to help them stay safe. She left her job in Rochester Hills shortly after the 2020 election and later became part of the newly formed Committee for Safe and Secure Elections. Since joining, she has given nearly 100 presentations throughout the country.

Earlier this month, The Associated Press was granted rare access inside the committee’s training session in Traverse City and allowed to observe the scenarios election workers are likely to face this year and the discussions about how they and law enforcement can prepare for them.

The threats to Barton started after she posted a video that was intended to counter false claims directed at her office by Ronna McDaniel, then-chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

“None of these scenarios are sensational. They are all things that have already happened in some way, shape or form across the country,” Barton tells the group. “To say, ‘Oh, that could never happen.’ These things are already happening.”

Barton’s partner in the trainings is Justin Smith, the former sheriff in Larimer County, Colorado, who signed up after retiring last year and hearing directly from local election officials about the onslaught of threats they have faced since 2020.

Smith often speaks directly to the police officers and sheriff’s deputies in the room, explaining the role they play in elections and how the environment has changed since 2020. In past years, election officials were likely to deal with issues on their own, such as protesters or unruly citizens looking to promote their candidates at polling places.

“It’s not that simple anymore,” Smith tells the group. “We need to be at the table and be part of the solution.”

To election officials, he explains how law enforcement has historically sought to keep its distance from anything to do with elections, mindful of First Amendment concerns and not wanting to interfere with anyone’s right to vote.

“When initially I would bring up the topic, there were a lot of law enforcement folks that kind of winced, just because it’s a very controversial area.” Smith said during an interview after the training.

Barton guides the election officials through various scenarios and encourages them to think through their responses, when it makes sense to alert law enforcement and when to consider releasing information to the public.

“I know there’s been some, maybe disgruntlement across the country from some election officials that feel that they haven’t gotten the response from law enforcement that they thought law enforcement should give,” Barton tells the election officials. “So these conversations help us understand what they can actually do in those scenarios and what they can’t do.”

She said election offices might deal with everything from threatening emails and phone calls to an AI-generated robocall sent to poll workers telling them to stay home on Election Day. One of the scenarios Barton presented to the group mirrors events that unfolded in the days immediately after elections last fall, when local election offices in a handful of states received letters in the mail that contained fentanyl, a highly potent synthetic opioid.

The fentanyl example sparked animated conversations among the election workers, as many of them began to understand they were not taking sufficient precautions. As one clerk and her deputy sat next to each other, they realized that also was how they opened mail — together in the clerk’s office.

“If something were to happen to both of them, where does that chain of command go? For some of you, that might be your whole office,” Barton tells the group.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November.

Benson said her office has been providing grants to election offices to help them boost security. The federal government also is engaged in the effort. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will assess the physical security of local election offices and has written guidance for workers on how to de-escalate tense situations.

Spencer Wood, the federal agency’s regional election security adviser, told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections.

“For more than 200 years, American democracy has withstood a range of physical, cyber and operational risks — and 2024 will be no different,” he said.

Throughout the training, Barton referenced the election officials who have retired or left the profession, citing the stress since the 2020 presidential election. A survey last year by the Brennan Center for Justice found that about 1 in 5 election workers knew someone who left their election job for safety reasons and nearly three-quarters of local election officials said harassment had increased. Barton emphasized to the clerks the importance of having access to mental health services.

One longtime election official who attended the Michigan training, East Bay Township Clerk Susanne Courtade, not only plans to stay for the November election but is running for another term despite being harassed in the aftermath of the 2020 election. She said she faced attacks on her character and demands for her removal.

“I felt attacked, but then I also felt that if I stepped aside, they win,” she said. “I’m sad that we are at this point where we have to understand better how to prepare and protect ourselves and our citizens and our workers, but I’m glad that we are able to come together.”

Even as the clerks prepare for November, many of them expressed concerns over what they could face.

The week before the training session, Trump held a rally two hours south in Grand Rapids. Joining him onstage were a handful of county sheriffs from across Michigan who support him and who heard Trump repeat claims that Democrats “cheat in elections.”

This past week, a small group of sheriffs from across the country gathered in Las Vegas to join forces with prominent election conspiracy theorists. The group, which calls itself the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, argues that sheriffs have unlimited power and must investigate elections.

Traverse City Clerk Benjamin Marentette said training sessions like the one in Traverse City are crucial to make sure local election offices and law enforcement are communicating.

“You can build that trust because everyone – law enforcement and election officials – 99% of them are there for the right reasons and with a true heart for service,” Marentette said.

Michael D. Shea, the sheriff in Grand Traverse County, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job. A Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, Shea said it was understandable to have some concerns about elections, particularly with the use of technology in parts of the voting process, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.

“The goal is a safe, secure, fair election," said Shea, who attended the training. "And we intend to make that happen.”

Associated Press writers Joey Cappelletti in Grand Rapids, Michigan; Nicholas Riccardi in Las Vegas; Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, and Ali Swenson in New York contributed to this report.

The Associated Press receives support from several private foundations to enhance its explanatory coverage of elections and democracy. See more about AP’s democracy initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse County Sheriff Michael D. Shea attends a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. A group, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Shea, a Republican who is on the ballot in the fall, said he was surprised at how vulnerable election officials can be because of the requirements associated with their job, but said he trusted experts and his local election officials.. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse county clerk Benjamin Marentette speaks at a conference held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Marentette said training sessions like the one in Traverse City are crucial to make sure local election offices and law enforcement are communicating. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Grand Traverse county clerk Benjamin Marentette speaks at a conference held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Marentette said training sessions like the one in Traverse City are crucial to make sure local election offices and law enforcement are communicating. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Suzanne Courtade, clerk of East Bay Township, attends a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Courtade says she not only plans to stay for the November election but is running for another term despite being harassed in the aftermath of the 2020 election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Suzanne Courtade, clerk of East Bay Township, attends a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Courtade says she not only plans to stay for the November election but is running for another term despite being harassed in the aftermath of the 2020 election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Spencer Wood, a regional election security advisor with the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, addresses election workers, staff and law enforcement April 10, 2024, at a Committee of Safe and Secure Elections conference in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Wood told the attendees they were not facing the threats alone and praised them as the “frontline defenders” of the nation’s elections. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. The Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping election workers prepare for what could lie ahead. Benson, whose office helped sponsor and coordinate the Traverse City training and who also has endured numerous threats, said it's imperative for law enforcement and election officials to work together to ensure a smooth election in November. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Justin Smith, a retired Colorado sherriff from Larimer County, Colo., speaks during a recording for the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections during a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping prepare for what could lie ahead. Smith signed up after retiring last year and hearing from local election officials about the threats they have faced since 2020. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Justin Smith, a retired Colorado sherriff from Larimer County, Colo., speaks during a recording for the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections during a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping prepare for what could lie ahead. Smith signed up after retiring last year and hearing from local election officials about the threats they have faced since 2020. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Tina Barton, a former election clerk, speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Barton, who was overseeing elections in Rochester Hills, Mich., spoke about receiving a threatening voicemail a week after the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Tina Barton, a former election clerk, speaks at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials held by the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead. Barton, who was overseeing elections in Rochester Hills, Mich., spoke about receiving a threatening voicemail a week after the 2020 presidential election. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

Educational materials provided by the Committee of Safe and Secure Elections are pictured at a conference with local election and law enforcement officials Wednesday, April 10, 2024, in Traverse City, Mich. A top concern for local election workers throughout the country this year is their own safety. The committee, formed after the 2020 presidential election, is traveling the country helping them prepare for what could lie ahead and making sure they are connected to local law enforcement. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

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Duran homers and steals home as Red Sox beat Rays 5-2

2024-05-22 10:26 Last Updated At:10:32

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Jarren Duran homered and stole home as the Boston Red Sox beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-2 on Tuesday night.

Duran scored to make it 4-2 during a double steal with Rafael Devers in a go-ahead, two-run eighth against Jason Adam (2-1). Duran headed home after Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt tried to throw Devers out at second and beat a return throw to the plate with a head-first slide.

“Stealing home to get us an extra run is always awesome,” Duran said.

Devers had his team record of homering in six consecutive games end. Only nine players have gone deep in seven straight games. Ken Griffey Jr. (1993), Don Mattingly (1987) and Dale Long (1956) share the longest streak with eight.

“It was great run there,” Boston manager Alex Cora said, “It's amazing.”

Devers singled in three at-bats for an 11-game hitting streak, He was intentionally walked in the decisive eighth that saw Wilyer Abreu hit a tiebreaking single earlier in the inning.. It was Devers' first stolen base this season,

“It makes me happy to help the team win,” Devers said through a translator.

Rays manager Kevin Cash called the double steal a “good play by them.”

By winning the first two games of a three-game set, the Red Sox won their first road series against the Rays since July 22-24, 2019. Boston moved back over .500 at 25-24.

The Rays have dropped a season high-tying three straight games and fell to 25-25.

Duran homered leading off the sixth off Rays starter Zack Littell to tie it at 2. Reese McGuire had a solo drive in the ninth.

“With the new rules and everything, he’s the perfect player for this environment,” Cora said of Duran. “He can run, he can hit it out of the ballpark. He’s a good defender.”

Tampa Bay has allowed a major league-leading 41 homers at home.

Greg Weissert (2-1) struck out two in a perfect seventh and Kenley Jansen worked the ninth to get his 14th save in 17 chances..

Isaac Paredes put the Rays up 2-0 on a two-run single against Cooper Criswell in the first. Boston got within 2-1 on a second-inning RBI single by Vaughn Grissom.

Littell gave up two runs and three hits over 5 2/3 innings. Criswell allowed two runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Red Sox: Cora said reliever Liam Hendriks (Tommy John surgery) is “trending in the right direction” and remains optimistic the right-hander will be back this season. … DH Masataka Yoshida (strained left thumb) is getting treatment and “improving but not there yet to do baseball activities,” according to Cora. … 1B Triston Casas (strained left ribs) has added throwing to his workout program.

Rays: SS Taylor Walls, out all season following right hip surgery, went 0 for 2 and played five innings of defense in his first game with the rookie-level FCL Rays.

UP NEXT

Rays RHP Ryan Pepiot (3-2, 3.68 ERA) will make his first start Wednesday night since getting hit in the lower left leg by an 107.5 mph liner by the New York Mets’ Starling Marte on May 5. RHP Brayan Bello (4-2, 3.96 ERA) will be the Boston starter.

AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Duran celebrates his solo home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zack Littell with third base coach Kyle Hudson (84) during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Duran celebrates his solo home run off Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zack Littell with third base coach Kyle Hudson (84) during the sixth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Duran (16) steals home plate ahead of the throw to Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Duran (16) steals home plate ahead of the throw to Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Dura reacts after steal home plate against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Jarren Dura reacts after steal home plate against the Tampa Bay Rays during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Ceddanne Rafaela, left, scores behind Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt on an RBI single by Wilyer Abreu during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Ceddanne Rafaela, left, scores behind Tampa Bay Rays catcher Ben Rortvedt on an RBI single by Wilyer Abreu during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Wilyer Abreu hits an RBI single off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jason Adam during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Boston's Ceddanne Rafaela scored on the play. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox's Wilyer Abreu hits an RBI single off Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Jason Adam during the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Boston's Ceddanne Rafaela scored on the play. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers fields a ground ball by Tampa Bay Rays' Amed Rosario and gets the force play on Isaac Paredes during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers fields a ground ball by Tampa Bay Rays' Amed Rosario and gets the force play on Isaac Paredes during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays' Randy Arozarena, right, celebrates his double off Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Cooper Criswell during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Looking on is Boston Red Sox second baseman Vaughn Grissom. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays' Randy Arozarena, right, celebrates his double off Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Cooper Criswell during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. Looking on is Boston Red Sox second baseman Vaughn Grissom. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Cooper Criswell delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Cooper Criswell delivers to the Tampa Bay Rays during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zack Littell delivers to the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Zack Littell delivers to the Boston Red Sox during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays' Randy Arozarena (56) scores ahead of the throw to Boston Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire on a two-run single by Isaac Paredes during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. looking on is home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Tampa Bay Rays' Randy Arozarena (56) scores ahead of the throw to Boston Red Sox catcher Reese McGuire on a two-run single by Isaac Paredes during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. looking on is home plate umpire Vic Carapazza. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

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