Becky Courington is in a high-risk population for COVID-19, so she likes to do her mailing in the evening at the automated service kiosk in the Fairbanks Station Post Office on Brookhollow. It was around 9:30 p.m. when she exited her car with a handful of holiday cards to mail and made her way inside.
“All of a sudden, I heard a voice screaming, ‘How much did they pay you?’” she said. “I ignored it because I didn’t think it had anything to do with me. Then it came again, louder, and I turned around.”
Emerging from the hedgerows around the entrance was a white man in a grey shirt with a tan mutt on leash. He rapidly advanced on Courington, growing more belligerent with every step. He kept shouting at her, asking how much she was being paid to “screw up our elections.” Afraid, Courington ran away.
“He started screaming, ‘Get back in your car!” I was ten steps ahead of him,” she says.
Though Courington does not recall him specifically mentioning any particular party or candidate, it’s hard not to connect the frothing rage of her assailant with the constant stream of voter fraud conspiracy theories coming from the White House. President Donald Trump has repeatedly asserted, with absolutely no evidence to back up the claim, that the expected flood of mail-in votes during the coronavirus outbreak is inherently corrupted by sinister Democratic forces.
“This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen,” he said in the first debate with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Trump’s conspiracy nonsense has trickled down into local politics, with Governor Greg Abbott insisting that all force must be mobilized to stop the illusionary scourge. More sensible heads point out that 150 fraudulent votes out of 250 million cast in the state over the last sixteen years is a pretty good indicator this is not actually a real problem.
Still, despite the facts the specter of a stolen election continues to haunt many conservatives and people of a conspiratorial mindset as the polls indicate a massive blue wave win next week. Trump is barely hanging on to Texas, which has not voted for a Democrat since 1976. Biden has been the first liberal candidate to tie or exceed a Republican president in polls in a generation.
Courington’s assailant may or may not be a part of the reactionary right response to Trump’s ridiculous claims. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that Courington had called in her encounter with the man, but a patrol car dispatched to the scene did not find him. No other incidences have been heard of.
“He seemed to think I was tampering with ballots and he was going to stop me,” Courington said. “I guess he thought I was an agent to fuck with the election by mailing things. The whole situation was genuinely bizarre and pretty nerve wracking. Apparently going anywhere associated with voting is now a safety issue.”