Senate Democrats unveil bill to protect election officials, prevent election subversion
A group of Democratic lawmakers led by Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (Minn.) unveiled legislation Thursday aiming to combat efforts to undermine election results and install new protections for election workers, who have received a rise in violent threats since the 2020 election.
The bill, titled the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, would extend existing prohibitions on threats to election officials to include individuals involved in ballot-counting, canvassing and certifying election results.
The legislation also calls for strengthened protections for federal election records and election systems to “stop election officials or others from endangering the preservation and security of cast ballots,” and allowing the Justice Department to bring lawsuits to enforce compliance with election records requirements.
Democratic Sens. Alex Padilla (Calif.), Jon Ossoff (Ga.) and Jeff Merkley (Ore.) joined Klobuchar in announcing the proposal Thursday.
“Across the country, we are seeing election administrators and officials face a barrage of threats and abusive behaviors by those seeking to overturn election results,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
“We need to respond to these threats head on to protect those who are on the frontlines defending our democracy,” added Klobuchar, who has oversight over federal elections as head of the Rules Committee.
Klobuchar argued that the “legislation is key to fighting back against attempts to undermine our elections and ensuring our democracy works for every American.”
The new bill comes after Klobuchar, along with Ossoff, Merkley and Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in June introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act in an effort to protect the integrity of local elections and the safety of their workers and volunteers.
Concerns have grown that election workers could leave their posts as they are barraged with violent threats, with some officials saying that their homes have been broken into and that their private information was posted maliciously online.
According to an April survey by the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly 1 in 6 local election workers have received threats of violence, and close to 1 in 3 expressed feeling unsafe because of their job.
Election officials and experts have blamed the threats on false claims of a stolen 2020 election that have been advanced by former President Trump and his allies.
The Thursday bill is separate from the ongoing negotiations Klobuchar and other Senate leaders are engaged in to come to a consensus on a scaled-back voting rights bill after Senate Republicans blocked the sweeping For the People Act earlier this year.
Klobuchar said Tuesday that Senate Democrats were close to a new bill that would unite both progressives and more centrist members of the caucus.
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