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A Delco election worker’s lawsuit says Trump’s false rhetoric about stolen votes led to threats and gave him two heart attacks

Voting machine supervisor James Savage alleges Trump camp's repeated false election claims ruined his reputation and health.

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6.
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6.Read moreYuri Gripas / MCT

One Delaware County voting-machine supervisor contends former President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that election officials tampered with 2020 election results made him the subject of “hatred, contempt, ridicule,” and physical threats.

Now, James Savage, who says he suffered two heart attacks because of the stress from those attacks, is taking Trump and the former president’s associates to court.

A civil suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas was filed Monday against Trump, two GOP poll watchers, as well as members of Trump’s then-legal team, Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis.

According to the lawsuit, Savage’s job was managing voting machines. Savage tested the machines, ensuring they were programmed, kept safe, and delivered to and from their polling destinations in Delaware County.

The suit says that GOP poll watchers Gregory Stenstrom and Leah Hoopes accused Savage of malfeasance as he was working at the Delaware County vote-counting center on election night, and then falsely claimed at a GOP committee hearing of the state legislature later that month that Savage had uploaded 50,000 votes favoring now-President Joe Biden.

Conor Corcoran, Savage’s attorney, said the poll watchers damaged his client’s reputation in order to get their moments in the spotlight.

Savage, Corcoran said, plays no role in vote tabulation. Corcoran is seeking a jury trial for defamation, civil conspiracy, and false-light invasion of privacy. He’s also seeking damages that he says would be determined by a jury.

“The sky’s the limit because they damn near put him six feet under,” said Corcoran.

The suit, first reported by Law360, describes how the defendants took to social media and the news media to disparage Savage. The defendants could not be reached for comment Thursday.

A Nov. 27, 2020, Trump tweet that was referenced in the suit made claims of missing USB drives and tens of thousands of votes uploaded for Biden. There is no evidence that widespread voter fraud occurred in Pennsylvania in the 2020 election.

At a Dec. 1 news conference the Trump campaign framed as a platform for whistleblowers to speak out, Stenstrom would reiterate the claims he’d made at the committee hearing, saying he saw “the voting machine warehouse supervisor for Delaware County” upload votes for Biden.

Savage says his name didn’t need to be mentioned outright for others to realize he was the one being accused of election fraud.

Across Pennsylvania, elections officials have reported being harassed because of Trump camp claims falsely accusing workers of “stealing” the 2020 election.

A Dominion Voting Systems employee lodged a suit similar to Savage’s, following Trump’s campaign allegations of election interference, and U.S. Capitol Police officers sued the former president for allegedly working with extremists to commit acts of terrorism in the Jan. 6 insurrection.

According to Savage’s lawsuit, he faced harassment less than a week before Jan. 6 as well, when two uncredentialed men demanded they be allowed to conduct a search of his work on behalf of “the voters.”

Despite his heart attacks, continued death threats, and the abuse laid out in his suit, Savage worked on Election Day this week.

“Let me tell you about an Irishman from Delaware County: He’s not about to kowtow to the threats of a merry band of half-wits like this,” said Corcoran. “You’re damn right he continued about his rounds and helped conduct the elections.”