WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced legislation to support the recruitment and retention of election workers. This legislation is led in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Joe Morelle (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration.
Election workers continue to face intimidation and security threats and are increasingly leaving their jobs. According to a newly released survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, several election officials have left their jobs and more plan to leave before the 2024 election. The Support our Election Workers Act responds to this challenge by providing resources to states to recruit and retain election workers, helping to ensure our elections are administered smoothly.
“Our election workers are on the frontlines of our democracy, ensuring Americans can access the ballot box. But over the past few years, election officials and poll workers have faced a barrage of threats and intimidation and we’re now facing a serious worker shortage,” said Klobuchar. “Our legislation would take steps to strengthen our support for election workers to make sure we’re able to recruit and retain these essential public servants for future elections.”
“For years now, election workers have faced intimidation, threats, and violence while attempting to do their jobs and facilitate our free and fair elections,” said Warner. “The Election Workers Protection Act takes steps to protect the safety of the public servants who administer our elections - the cornerstone of our democracy.”
“As California’s former Secretary of State, I understand the hard work and dedication that our election workers put into every single election,” said Padilla. “In recent years, however, they have faced increasing attacks on their critical work to uphold the very foundation of our democracy. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Support Our Election Workers Act, which will help better compensate election workers so they can continue to ensure that our elections remain free and fair.”
“Election workers are crucial to the strength of our democracy,” said Whitehouse. “The Support Our Election Workers Act will provide states with funding to adequately pay election workers, increase recruitment and retention efforts to fill these important roles, and protect the integrity of our elections.”
“Election workers in Oregon and nationwide provide a crucial service, ensuring that all eligible voters can make their voices heard by casting a ballot. But their lives and livelihoods are under threat from extremists trying to undermine our elections,” said Wyden. “These workers make up the backbone of our democratic process, and I’ll fight tooth and nail to get election workers the support they need to carry out their sacred duty.”
“Without election workers our democracy crumbles. In recent years, lies and disinformation about the presidential election have fueled armed protests and unprecedented threats and harassment targeted at election officials. We must protect our election workers and democracy by ensuring those who administer our elections are safe and protected,” said Morelle.
The Support our Election Workers Act requires the Election Assistance Commission to distribute grants to states to provide increased pay for election workers, including people serving as poll workers and election officials. The legislation also requires states seeking grants to describe their plans to use such funds to retain qualified election workers and to recruit new election workers.
The legislation is endorsed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, Transparency International U.S., American Federation of Teachers, Pax Christi USA, and Sojourners.
As Chairwoman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee with oversight over federal elections, Klobuchar has long championed efforts to support and protect election workers.
In April, Klobuchar reintroduced the Election Worker Protection Act, comprehensive legislation to address threats to election workers, with Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and 23 of their colleagues.
This month, Klobuchar reintroduced the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act to expand protections against election interference during the ballot counting and certification processes with U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
In March 2023, Klobuchar held a Rules Committee hearing on election administration, including the impact of increasing threats directed at election officials on the ability of states and local governments to administer elections.
In 2021, 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 2022.
In June 2022, 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 2022, 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 the DOJ’s announcement one year ago that it was launching a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials.
Also in June 2022, Klobuchar and former Senate Rules Committee Ranking Member Roy Blunt (R-MO) led a successful effort 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 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.