The Preventing Election Subversion Act would institute new safeguards to protect local election administrators from outside pressure
Washington – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), and Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Jon Ossoff (D-GA) introduced legislation to prevent local election officials from being removed without cause while protecting the safety and security of election workers and volunteers. The Preventing Election Subversion Act will institute new federal safeguards to help keep the foundations of our democracy strong by shielding local election administrators from outside pressure. U.S. Representatives John Sarbanes (D-MD), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Nikema Williams (D-GA), and Colin Allred (D-TX) have introduced companion legislation in the House.
“The right to vote is fundamental to all of our rights, but today we are seeing efforts to roll back voting rights across the country,” said Senator Klobuchar. “We need to respond to these threats to our democracy head on, which is why this legislation to protect election workers and prohibit voter intimidation tactics is so vital. This bill builds on several provisions from the For the People Act to fight back against attempts to undermine election workers and make it harder to vote. In the face of these unprecedented attacks, we must move quickly to ensure our democracy works for every American.”
“The dangers of the voter suppression efforts we’re seeing in Georgia and across the nation are not theoretical, and we can’t allow power-hungry state actors to squeeze the people out of their own democracy by overruling the decisions of local election officials,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “This legislation is critical to ensuring the federal government has the tools to make sure every eligible voter’s voice is heard and their ballot is counted to help decide the direction of our country.”
“Around the world we see sham elections controlled by a ruling party to give a veneer of democracy while preventing the people from actually deciding who holds power. And in 2021, this threat has arrived on our shores,” said Senator Merkley. “For the first time in my memory, one party is trying to dismantle the safeguards that give us independent, free elections so they can rig—or throw out—the results they don’t like. This bill is an essential line of defense to preserve government of, by, and for the People.”
“American elections – and the public servants who oversee them—should be free from partisan interference, threats of violence, and acts of intimidation. Unfortunately, state legislatures in states across the country have resorted to targeting local election officials in their latest effort to delegitimize and influence voting outcomes for political gain and we’ve seen election workers suffer from unrelenting abuse and harassment,” said Senator Warner. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to protect free and fair elections, the cornerstone of our democracy.”
“Senator Reverend Warnock and I are focused on protecting every American’s voting rights. This legislation will ensure nonpartisan election officials can carry out free and fair elections without partisan interference and help safeguard the sacred right to vote,” said Senator Ossoff.
The Preventing Election Subversion Act would:
- Limit arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials by requiring a “for cause” standard to be met before suspension and provide a federal cause of action to enforce this standard;
- Allow a local election official who has responsibility for federal elections and who has been subjected to removal proceedings by a state board of elections to remove that proceeding to federal district court for redress;
- Make it a federal crime for any person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, to intimidate, threaten, coerce, harass, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, coerce, or harass an election worker;
- Establish a minimum buffer zone to limit how close a poll observer may come within a voter or ballot at a polling location during an early vote period or on Election Day; and
- Require challenges to a voter’s eligibility to register to vote or to cast a ballot, other than from an election official, to be supported by personal knowledge with respect to each individual challenged.