The ugly, violent and relentless threats against election officials and poll workers since the 2020 election remains one of the toughest stories we’ve had to cover in the past year. Harassers have besieged this group with dark promises to hunt them down or hang them or harm their children.
And it’s changed lives for people across the country: One Philadelphia official told Fredreka about nightmares disturbing his 3-year-old after a barrage of threats brought police to guard the family home.
All because they did their jobs and stood firm against pressure campaigns to overturn the 2020 election results.
States fight back
Now, some lawmakers want to fight back.
“We’re not going to submit to mob rule,” the Democrat added.
But some of the proposals have encountered some resistance, and it’s not clear what will stop the vitriol as we head into crucial midterm elections this year.
Frockt’s bill, which would make it a felony to harass an election official, recently passed the state Senate. But some lawmakers have raised red flags about the impact of adding stiff new penalties to criminal codes.
As state legislators weigh new laws, federal officials have begun to take action.
The arrests marked the first charges from the department’s task force on election threats, launched last June. Federal officials say they have dozens of ongoing cases.
The unprecedented harassment of the legion of civil servants who keep democracy functioning has raised fears that many will head for the exits soon.
But, chillingly, nearly 1 in 3 local election officials included in a survey last year conducted for the Brennan Center for Justice said they felt unsafe because of their jobs.
Flood of money
The new focus on election administration also has transformed once-obscure state elections into high-profile, expense races.
More than half the states will pick new secretaries of state this year.
In several, candidates who have questioned the 2020 election results are running for the top election jobs in their states. Former President Donald Trump has endorsed contenders in three states: Michigan, Georgia and Arizona.
You need to read
- CNN’s recent poll with this alarming finding: An increasing number of Americans lack confidence that elections will reflect the will of the people.
- Our stories on the widespread confusion about Texas’ new voting law, ahead of the March 1 primary. One voter described to Fredreka her three attempts to nab a mail-in ballot.
- CNN justice writer Tierney Sneed’s smart look at what the Supreme Court’s recent decision in an Alabama redistricting case could mean for Black political power.