Americans who came forward when they spotted what they thought was suspicious activity in the 2020 presidential election say they got a message loud and clear: If you see something, shut up about it.
Mellissa Carone, a Michigan information technology worker who raised an alarm about what she viewed as irregularities during the ballot count in Detroit, said she called the FBI twice in attempts to report the problems.
“I never got a call back still,” said Ms. Carone, who gained notoriety for her fiery election fraud testimony alongside former President Donald Trump’s lead attorney, Rudolph W. Giuliani.
Ms. Carone said people came knocking on her door in outrage over her claims that the Nov. 3 election was rigged. She even changed her phone number to escape the hate calls.
The trauma she and others who spoke out experienced was compounded when federal law enforcement largely ignored their claims, according to some who alleged ballot mischief and their attorneys.
Courts also dismissed the reports. Judges at the state and federal levels tossed out more than 60 election challenges.
Critics say the credibility of the people flagging election irregularities was impugned by the failure of pro-Trump lawsuits to overturn a single state election that Joseph R. Biden won.
Jesse Morgan, a U.S. Postal Service truck driver, reported to authorities that mail-in ballots he hauled from New York to Pennsylvania disappeared.
He said he got short shrift from the USPS inspector general’s office and the FBI. An FBI agent later grilled his wife about whether the Republican Party paid Mr. Morgan to level the allegations.
“This is really sad. This is turning into a Democrat or Republican kind of thing,” Mr. Morgan said. “It just baffles me.”
In Nevada, a woman provided a sworn affidavit claiming to have seen a Biden-Harris van parked behind a polling place where people were filling out ballots.
She refused to speak publicly and chose to remain anonymous out of fear of harassment and ridicule.
A lawyer involved in the Nevada allegations said the woman was never contacted by federal or state investigators.
Others wavered under the intense scrutiny.
Richard Hopkins, a postal worker in Erie, Pennsylvania, attested in a sworn affidavit that he heard a supervisor direct USPS employees to backdate mail-in ballots so they would qualify for counting.
Project Veritas, a right-wing advocacy group, promoted Mr. Hopkins’ claims.
Mr. Hopkins, who was suspended without pay while his claims were investigated, recanted under pressure by an agent of the USPS inspector general.
He later reversed the recanting, but the back and forth made his claims suspect.
Ms. Carone refused to retreat after running into America’s political headwinds. She launched a run for the Michigan state House of Representatives.
Her complaints about issues with Dominion Voting Systems’ machines were met with harassment and doxing, she said, including coworkers giving out her address.
In her testimony before a Michigan House panel, she repeatedly interrupted lawmakers and peppered them with questions. The exchanges went viral, making her somewhat of a celebrity among Trump supporters.
But late-night TV talk show hosts joked that she was intoxicated, and “Saturday Night Live” lampooned Ms. Carone as a ditzy “Valley girl” character.
Ms. Carone, a 34-year-old mother, denied that she was under the influence during her testimony.
“It was negative, and they did it for all the wrong reasons,” she told The Washington Times. “But it came together in the right way to put me in a situation where I can take a leadership position and I can go in and have some really good policies that Michigan and every state needs.”
She noted that left-leaning news outlets published articles about her past legal charge of disorderly conduct during a family dispute with her fiance’s ex-girlfriend.
“We all have stuff in our backgrounds,” she said. “Why don’t they look into Joe Biden and his family?”
Dominion sent Ms. Carone a cease-and-desist letter to keep her from spreading what it said was false information about the company.
“What I have went through personally has been very challenging at times,” she said. “I’ve had people knocking on my door.”
Dominion denied any wrongdoing in the 2020 election and filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Mr. Giuliani and pro-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell for their allegations of vulnerabilities and manipulation of the company’s ballot-scanning and tabulation machines.
Ms. Carone blamed a corrupt system for the lack of follow-up from state and federal officials on the election fraud claims.
“It’s very unfortunate we have an FBI that is corrupt. They are corrupt, and you didn’t see them not investigating what happened … at our Capitol,” she said. “They jumped right on that because it was Trump supporters.”
In Pennsylvania, Mr. Morgan told the FBI and USPS inspector general about his allegations in early December but has not heard back — other than the call to his wife from an FBI agent from the Philadelphia office asking whether the Republican Party had paid him.
A legal group representing Mr. Morgan estimated that he trucked more than 280,000 ballots from Bethpage, New York, to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. In his affidavit, he was hesitant to guess the exact number of ballots.
Mr. Morgan parked his truck to drop off about 24 boxes of ballots. He then was kept waiting for several hours, which was not normal, according to his sworn testimony.
Mr. Morgan never received an explanation for what happened to the trailer and the ballots. He noted in the affidavit that he knew ballots were in his trailer because he was told in Bethpage that he would be transporting mail-in ballots to Harrisburg.
His attorneys said his account was evidence of widespread election fraud.
Pennsylvania election officials rejected the claim. They insisted that safeguards in the voting system, from identification requirements to receive an absentee ballot to bar codes on the envelopes, make it impossible to forge hundreds of thousands of ballots.
Mr. Morgan found himself on trial in the news media, undergoing scrutiny of his criminal record of domestic abuse and forgery charges and his history of drug abuse and mental health struggles.
A drug treatment court judge once remarked that he “constantly lied” while dealing with the court. The statement undermined his credibility.
The news media also delved into Mr. Morgan’s work as an amateur ghost hunter with his brother to produce videos for sale on Amazon.
Still, Mr. Morgan said he would do it all over again.
“Someone has got to be a voice,” Mr. Morgan said. “I would do it again. I believe in getting the truth out there.”
His affidavit was taken by the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society Whistleblowers.
Pennsylvania election officials rejected claims of fraud. Mr. Biden won the state by 1.2%, or 81,660 votes.
Officials in other swing states such as Michigan, where Ms. Carone lives, also dismissed accusations of widespread voter fraud.
The USPS inspector general’s office did not return a request for comment about Mr. Morgan and the irregularity he raised.
The FBI said it would not comment on or confirm investigations.
Lew Schiliro, former head of the FBI’s New York field office, said the agent who asked Mr. Morgan’s wife about Republican Party payment might have been investigating related information from elsewhere.
“They may not necessarily have a follow-up with him. If they can’t corroborate what he is saying, that may be the end of it,” Mr. Schiliro said. “There should be something they can find if, in fact, it’s true.”
The Justice Department also refused to comment on any ongoing investigations.
Mr. Trump and his allies tried to overturn the November election by claiming widespread fraud, but they were shut down even by Republican and Trump-appointed judges. They lost 62 lawsuits, some on procedural grounds, according to one count.
Jesse Binnall, representing the Trump campaign in Nevada, brought forward hundreds of affidavits demonstrating election irregularities and reports of fraud.
District Court Judge James Russell in Carson City heard oral arguments and reviewed the filings but dismissed the case.
Mr. Binnall said his legal team tried to interview postal workers who said they were instructed to deliver ballots to addresses they knew were false, yet the ballots were returned filled out.
“When we tried to take the deposition of people that would know that, the United States Postal Service stonewalled us and refused to let us take those depositions and get that evidence,” he said. “The Postal Service refused to let their employees testify about the fraud that occurred through the mail.”
Mr. Binnall said law enforcement is likely not following up on the fraud claims, issued under oath, because they are afraid of what they will find.
“Deep down, they know what they are going to find,” he said. “They know about the overwhelming fraud that happened in this election.”
Richard Anderson, a political science professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said investigators would follow up if they found allegations of crimes to be credible.
He said most elections have incidents of fraud, though the number of incidents would not overturn the outcome.
“The whole beauty of elections is that they must be extremely close for fraud to make a difference in who wins,” he said. “Even in Georgia or Nevada, the margin of the presidential election was too large for incidents of fraud to make a difference, and even if Georgia and Nevada were reversed, Joe Biden would still be president.”