Legislation continues Klobuchar and Durbin’s longstanding efforts to protect the safety of election workers
Bill is endorsed by coalition of state Secretaries of State, as well as current and former election officials from both parties
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, and Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, introduced comprehensive legislation to address the rise in threats targeting election workers. The Election Worker Protection Act would provide states with the resources to recruit and train election workers and ensure these workers’ safety, while also instituting federal safeguards to shield election workers from intimidation and threats. The bill includes provisions that were developed with input from election officials, as well as provisions from the Freedom to Vote Act, voting rights legislation led by Senator Klobuchar and supported by all Democratic Senators.
“Election workers are facing a barrage of threats from those seeking to undermine our democracy,” said Klobuchar. “We need to respond to these threats head on and make sure that election workers are able to do their jobs. This legislation would ensure that state officials and law enforcement have the tools and resources they need to protect those on the frontlines defending our democracy.”
“In a recent survey, one in six election officials reported receiving threats because of their jobs on the frontlines of democracy,”said Durbin. “Donald Trump’s Big Lie not only encouraged these violent threats and the destruction of faith in our elections—it facilitated them. As we face this new, unfortunate reality, this bill is a common sense way to protect the safety of the public servants who administer our elections.”
The Election Worker Protection Act has received the support of a bipartisan group of current and former election officials, including former Republican Philadelphia City Commissioner Al Schmidt, who testified before the Rules Committee last year about the threats he and his family received.
“As a Philadelphia City Commissioner during the 2020 elections, my family and I received death threats simply for fulfilling my duty to certify legitimate election results,” said Schmidt. “I know that election workers across our country are facing similar harassment and intimidation on a daily basis from bad faith actors seeking to delegitimize our elections. That’s why it’s critical that Congress pass this commonsense legislation to protect election officials and safeguard our democratic processes.”
A group of 15 Secretaries of State, led by Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon, joined a letter supporting the Election Worker Protection Act and calling on Congress to take action to protect election workers.
“Additional action is needed at the federal level to ensure that all election workers have the necessary support and protection to do their jobs. The Election Worker Protection Act makes clear that these attacks on election workers will not be tolerated,” wrote the Secretaries. “We know what tools are needed to protect election workers, and we look forward to working with Congress to advance this legislation.”
The Election Worker Protection Act would:
- Establish grants to states and certain local government 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 doxxing 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.
In addition to Klobuchar and Durbin, the Election Worker Protection Act is cosponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Mark Warner (D-VA). The legislation is endorsed by Protect Democracy, End Citizens United / Let America Vote Action Fund, Democracy21, Issue One, Voices for Progress, Transparency International U.S., NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, and 20/20 Vision DC.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee with oversight over federal elections, Klobuchar has long led championed efforts to protect the safety of election workers.
Last fall, Klobuchar introduced the Freedom to Vote Act, landmark legislation to strengthen our democracy, which included resources to recruit and train election workers as well as provisions to prevent the intimidation and harassment of election workers. All Senate Democrats cosponsored this legislation and voted to advance the bill in January.
In June, she and Durbin led 20 of their colleagues in urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to notify state and local law enforcement of rising threats against election workers. Durbin also held a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing in August, that included testimony from officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), on threats to election workers and the first formal update to Congress since DOJ’s announcement one year ago that it was launching a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials.
Klobuchar and Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) led successful efforts to call on the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to expand the use of federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to protect election workers and officials against threats.
In April, Klobuchar and Blunt also requested an update on the EAC’s efforts to support state and local election officials with administering the 2022 midterm elections, including protecting election workers against threats.
In October 2021, Klobuchar held a Rules Committee hearing on increasing threats directed at election officials and the ability of states and local governments to retain election officials and recruit workers to administer future elections.
In June 2021, Klobuchar and Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) led bicameral legislation to prevent local election officials from being removed without cause while protecting the safety and security of election workers and volunteers. U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nikema Williams (D-GA), and Colin Allred (D-TX) introduced companion legislation in the House.