Aug 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Election workers "in the crossfire" of fraud rhetoric, secretaries of state say

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during a press conference.

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson speaks during a press conference. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Two secretaries of state who were threatened after recent elections called on Congress Wednesday to protect election workers who have been harassed while doing their jobs.

Why it matters: In testimonies before a Senate panel, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and her New Mexico counterpart Maggie Toulouse Oliver described election workers as targets for mistreatment because of rhetoric from political leaders.

Toulouse Oliver said "election workers have been caught in the crossfire and have themselves become the targets of harassment and threats.”

  • "We cannot have a secure democracy if we do not protect the security of the people who administer, protect and stand guard over our elections," Benson said during her remarks to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Election workers have been deterred from taking the roles in the future, Benson added. She called on Congress to limit access to personal information about election workers.

  • By the numbers: About 1 in 5 local election officials said they'd likely leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election because of attacks on the election system and stress from the job, among other reasons, Axios reports.

Benson said she experienced threats first-hand when people "shouting obscenities and graphic threats into bullhorns in the dark of night" arrived outside her home in December 2020 after election results were certified in Michigan.

  • Toulouse Oliver said she received three threatening phone calls after New Mexico's June 2022 primary election.

The big picture: The U.S. has seen an uptick in threats against election workers during and after the 2020 election, Axios' Shawna Chen writes.

  • The Election Threats Task Force was launched in June 2021 to help respond to the increasing amount of threats.
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