U.S. Senators reintroduce legislation aimed to protect local election officials

Tags: Elections
  • Blog

    U.S. Senators reintroduce legislation aimed to protect local election officials

    On April 28, U.S. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) re-introduced the Election Worker Protection Act (S. 1318) to improve the safety of state and local election officials. The bill, which was originally introduced by Sens. Klobuchar and Durbin in the 117th Congress, would increase penalties for individuals who threaten election workers or try to interfere with the electoral process and would authorize grants to assist state and certain local governments make safety improvements and recruit and retain election workers.

    More specifically, if enacted the bill would:

    • Authorize the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to make grant funds available to states for the recruitment and training of poll workers and election volunteers, which would be available directly to county election officials should their respective state not apply for funds  

    • Authorize grants for state and local governments to establish or expand programs designed to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) of election workers at a voluntary basis 

    • Authorize the EAC to make grants to states for physical security services and social media threat monitoring for election workers that county election officials would be able to access directly should their respective state not apply for funds 

    • Make the harassment and doxxing of election workers’ efforts a federal offense, as well as the intimidation of tabulation, canvas and certification

    • Ensure that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) offers training and resources to assist federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies in understanding, detecting, deterring and investigating threats to election workers 

    In the United States, the nation’s 3,069 counties traditionally administer and fund elections at the local level, including overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers for federal, state and local elections. County election officials work diligently with federal, state and other local election officials to ensure the safety and security of our voting systems and strive to administer elections in a way that is accurate, safe, secure and accessible for all voters.

    The National Association of Counties (NACo) calls upon Congress to enact legislation that will impose appropriate penalties for offenses including but not limited to the following: harassing or intimidating election officials in the performance of their duty, threatening or causing harm to election officials or their families, attempting to pressure election officials or their family members to violate state law or the Constitution, and disseminating by any means the personal information of election officials or their family members.

    In response to the reintroduction of the Election Worker Protection Act, members of NACo’s Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Policy Steering Committee and Election Subcommittee leadership team said:

    “As the foundation of our republic, free and fair elections should be vigilantly protected, as should those who administer them.  Election administrators are fiercely impartial. We work diligently to uphold the integrity of our nation’s electoral process and ensure citizens can exercise their right to vote.  Threats, harassment, and violence towards elections workers have no place and no merit.” – Hon. Ricky Hatch, County Clerk/Auditor, Weber County, Utah | Chair, NACo Elections Subcommittee

    “It is very encouraging to see Congress considering legislation that seeks to protect election workers.  Whether it be threats of physical harm, verbal abuse or spurious attacks, election administrators and precinct workers are suffering from an onslaught of mistreatment that threatens the proper discharge of functions that are vital to the perpetuation of our democratic institutions.” – Hon. Grant Veeder, County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections, Black Hawk County, Iowa | Vice Chair, NACo Finance, Pensions and Intergovernmental Affairs policy steering committee

    “Our dedicated election workers have faced unacceptable levels of intimidation, threats, and harassment while carrying out their vital duties to ensure the integrity of our elections. This legislation is a crucial step in safeguarding the rights and safety of our election workers, who deserve to perform their duties without fear of interference or harm. We urge all of Congress to join us in supporting this critical legislation to protect those who work tirelessly to protect our democracy” – Mr. Isaac Cramer, Executive Director, Charleston County (S.C.) Board of Elections and Voter Registration | Vice Chair, NACo Elections Subcommittee

    “Local election officials are watching our colleagues leave the field of election administration at alarming rates due to escalated threats and harassment. I am encouraged that Congress is taking proactive steps to support and protect poll workers, election staff, and voters as we prepare for the 2024 election cycle.” – Hon. Brianna Lennon, County Clerk, Boone County, Missouri | Vice Chair, NACo Elections Subcommittee

    NACo has endorsed the Election Worker Protection Act and a detailed legislative analysis of bill and its impact on counties is forthcoming.

    On April 28, U.S. Senate Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and U.S.