Threats from election workers lead to exodus from profession

Election workers process ballots after polls close for the United States midterm elections at the tabulation center at the Cobb County Registration and Elections Center in Marietta, Georgia, United States United, November 8, 2022.

Cheney Orr | Reuters

WASHINGTON — Physical and cyber threats to election workers are keeping people away from the industry, potentially endangering states’ ability to conduct election activities. off-year elections like those of Tuesday and the next presidential election of 2024.

“It is not difficult to understand why election workers are leaving their posts and resigning; their families have faced horrific threats,” Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, said during a recent hearing on election worker safety.

“We don’t feel safe in our jobs because of harassment and threats based on lies,” Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes said at the Nov. 1 hearing. “It almost defies common sense that we have people who want access to these jobs, but these are jobs that preserve our democracy,” he added.

Some election experts and secretaries of state have said threats have been trending upward since former President Donald Trump and his allies allegedly tried to undermine, then overturn, the results of the 2020 presidential election.

Created by the Department of Justice in 2021, the Election Threat Task Force has indicted more than a dozen people nationwide for violent and explicit intimidation of election workers, The Associated Press reported.

Witnesses urged senators to invest in election worker protections ahead of the 2024 presidential election.

Over the next 10 years, transitioning to paper voting systems and physical security improvements like bulletproof glass could cost as much as $600 million, said Elizabeth Howard, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justiceat the hearing.

In recent years, election officials have suffered death threats, online harassment and other abusive behavior, according to the Brennan Center.

Some 11% of current election officials said they were “very or somewhat likely to leave” their positions before the 2024 general election, according to a survey of the Center.

Women, who represent nearly 80% of electoral administrators, according to the Voting Rights Laboratoryare at greater risk.

Gender identities “are often a factor and subject of their harassment and threats.” Sen. Laphonza Butler, Democrat of California, said during her inaugural committee hearing.

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Howard urged senators to expand bans against “doxxing,” or posting someone’s private information online, so that the federal ban would include election workers.

“This would make it a criminal penalty to disclose an election worker’s personally identifiable information, such as their address, date of birth, etc., for the purpose of enabling others to harass them,” he said. she declared.

Doxxing allowed someone to monitor an official in Anchorage, Alaska, responsible for certifying the 2020 election results, by installing a camera near his front door, Howard said.

Fontes told senators it was time “to get back to the idea that the winners will win and the losers will try harder next time, instead of having to worry about political violence in our space civil”.

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