Oct 7, 2021 - Politics

Federal law seeks to protect election workers from threats

Fulton County, Ga., elections worker inspects ballots cast in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

Fulton County election workers examine ballots. Photo: Tami Chappell/AFP

Federal legislation would clarify who is protected under federal law for threats made against election workers and polling places.

Why it matters: The 2020 election saw a spike in threats directed towards election workers, many of whom are volunteers, across the country.

  • In Georgia, which came into the national spotlight during the 2020 election, some of those threats included a man calling in a bomb threat to a Fulton County polling place, a county elections worker who went into hiding after being falsely accused of tossing ballots and the wife of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger reporting she received death threats.

Details: The Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act, introduced by Sen. Jon Ossoff, would clarify federal code that protects election workers from threats of violence and harassment to also include people who supply and maintain voting equipment, volunteer election workers and family members of elections officials.

  • It would also expand the scope of threats to include not only people, but also their property; and prohibit intentionally damaging polling places, according to Ossoff’s proposal.

What they are saying: Ossoff said in a news release that threats against elections officials and polling places threaten people's right to vote and the U.S. Constitution.

  • “At this moment of peril for our democracy, my bill will strengthen federal laws protecting election workers and polling places from violent threats and acts of violence.”

Yes, but: Raffensperger, who has rejected former President Donald Trump's claims that election fraud led to his loss in Georgia, did not comment on the specifics of Ossoff's proposal.

Instead, he said through a spokesperson that “stolen election claims from Stacey Abrams and Donald Trump have decreased confidence in our elections and increased risks to local election officials.”

Katie Byrd, spokesperson for Gov. Brian Kemp, declined to comment on Ossoff's proposal, other than to say that Kemp “condemns all threatening or harassing behavior.”

Our thought bubble: We really hope people will start acting like adults in time for the 2022 elections.


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