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September 26, 2022

With Threats on Rise, King Backs Legislation to Protect Election Workers

Based on feedback from Secretaries of State including Shenna Bellows, the Election Worker Protection Act would provide more resources to keep election workers safe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, is cosponsoring 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 across the nation – including Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows.

“Democracy doesn’t run itself  – it takes thousands of hardworking people working across the country to ensure Americans’ voices are heard,” said Senator King. “As threats against election officials rise, we have a responsibility to protect these patriotic Americans as they work to maintain the foundation of our historically rare democracy. Along with funding for additional training and recruitment, the Election Worker Protection Act will give election workers the support they need to do their jobs and stay safe from those seeking to undermine our very system of government. It is sad and deeply frustrating that this bill even needs to be discussed, but with the continuing prevalence of anti-democracy conspiracy theories pushed by extreme political factions, I fear it has become a necessity.”

A group of 15 Secretaries of State, including Maine’s Secretary of State Shenna Bellows, 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 governments 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 doxing 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.

Senator King has been one of the Senate’s most outspoken voices for the need to protect American democracy against growing threats and increase voter trust. In October 2021 he delivered an impassioned speech on the Senate floor urging action on voting rights, stating that we are currently “at a hinge of history” that will determine the future of the American experiment in self-government. He built on these arguments in a speech from the Senate floor where he called for reforms to the filibuster to allow for common sense voting rights legislation to pass. In addition to the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement ActSenator King cosponsored the For the People Act and Senator Jon Ossoff’s (D-Ga.) Right to Vote Act, which would establish a first-ever statutory right to vote in federal elections — protecting U.S. citizens from laws that make it harder to cast a ballot. He also released the draft Electoral Count Modernization Act to shape the conversation around establishing clear, consistent, and fair procedures for the counting and certification of electoral votes for the presidency.

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