Independent U.S. Sen. Angus King is cosponsoring a bill aimed at making elections more secure by better protecting poll workers, increasing penalties for threatening election officials and offering federal grants to recruit and train election workers.

The Election Worker Protection Act comes as reported threats against election officials have surged following the false claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election.

The Maine Legislature enacted additional election protections last session, including elevating the prosecution of election worker harassment to the attorney general and prohibiting questionable third party election audits, which have led to voting machines being compromised in Georgia. Other partisan audits occurred in Arizona and Colorado.

And the Washington Post reported in August that 2020 presidential election deniers are running, and in some cases poised to win, powerful state positions that could allow them to influence disputed electoral outcomes.

A recent poll, released Friday by Emerson College, found that “threats to Democracy” were the second most important issue for voters this fall, trailing the economy and rising above abortion access.

“Democracy doesn’t run itself – it takes thousands of hardworking people working across the country to ensure Americans’ voices are heard,” King said in a written statement. “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. … 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.”


The federal bill comes at the urging of 15 secretaries of state, including Maine’s Shenna Bellows, and would provide states with additional resources to recruit, train, retain and protect election workers, while creating federal safeguards to shield election workers from intimidation and threats. It would also allow election workers to remove poll observers who try to interfere with the election.

“These protections will protect hardworking public servants who in recent years have received death threats and even had their home addresses published online,” the letter states. “Sadly, threats like this have been experienced by election workers in all of our states and across the country; we cannot allow them to continue unchecked.”

The bill 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.

• Protect the authority of election officials to remove poll observers who are interfering with or attempting to disrupt the administration of an election.

In addition to Maine, the other states whose secretaries of state are calling for federal protections are: Minnesota, New Jersey, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, New Mexico, Delaware, Michigan, Colorado, Oregon, Connecticut and Arizona.

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