news legislators sponsor bill to protect election day workers
Politics

Senate bill addresses reported rise in threats targeting election workers

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The Election Worker Protection Act would provide more resources to keep election workers safe.

Senate Committee on Rules and Administration member Sen. Mark Warner is co-sponsoring the legislation to address a reported rise in threats targeting election workers, according to a press release.

On September 14, CBS News reported that Kim Wyman, senior election lead at the United States’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), broke down as she spoke about “vitriol targeting election officials,” including in her home state of Wyoming. Wyman has worked with elections for 30 years.

Wyman told CBS News: “Threats like ‘we’re going to hang you.’ And ‘I hope somebody puts a bullet in your head.'”

Midterm elections are less than 60 days away, and officials are “bracing for a range of potential physical security risks prompted by conspiracy-laden claims of voter fraud, the Capitol insurrection and violent rhetoric spreading beyond an outspoken fringe of election deniers into mainstream politics.”

Resources to recruit and train election workers and ensure their safety would be provided by the Election Worker Protection Act. Federal safeguards would also be instituted to shield election workers from intimidation and threats.

“Because of their roles on the front lines of our democracy, local election workers have been subjected to increasing harassment and violent threats from those seeking to overturn the results of lawfully conducted elections,” Warner said in the press release. “As Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, I’m disturbed that so many Americans, including a former president, have been so enthusiastically willing to aid and abet adversaries like China and Russia in undermining confidence in our elections and faith in our democratic process. As we face this new and unfortunate reality, we should take steps to ensure that election workers have the support and protection they need to do their jobs safely.”

The legislation would also establish grants to states and certain local governments for poll worker recruitment, training, and retention, as well as grants for election worker safety; direct the Department of Justice to provide training resources regarding the identification and investigation of threats to election workers; provide grants to states to support programs protecting election workers’ personally identifiable information; establish threatening, intimidating or coercing election workers as a federal crime; expand the prohibition on voter intimidation in current law to apply to the counting of ballots, canvassing, and certification of elections; extend the federal prohibition on doxing to include election workers; and protect the authority of election officials to remove poll observers who are interfering with or attempting to disrupt the administration of an election.

 

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.