As election officials who are committed to keeping our elections free and fair, and ensuring that every eligible voter has an opportunity for their voice to be heard, we are deeply troubled about ongoing threats targeting election workers across the country. These abhorrent provocations against the election administration community undermine our shared democratic values, and they risk serious injury – or worse.

Recently, Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows became a target of these threats after she ruled former President Trump to be ineligible to appear on the state’s GOP primary ballot. Such threats against election workers have become far too common in American politics over the past several years. A task force created by the Justice Department in 2021 has reviewed more than 2,000 reports of threats and harassment since its inception. And in many states, the turnover rate among local election officials since November 2020 has been far higher than we’ve seen in previous years, stemming from the environment of intimidation that many officials and their families have faced.

While we are all registered Republicans, we were elected to administer elections in a fair and nonpartisan way. We may not all agree with Maine’s decision to remove the former president from the state’s primary ballot, or similar efforts in other states, but we all agree that there is no place for violence in our political discourse. That’s not how we settle our differences in a democracy.

Election officials are your neighbors, friends and family members. We sit next to you in church, at local PTA meetings and at sporting events. We have been thrust into the spotlight ever since the 2020 presidential election, but we continue to carry out our duties because we are committed to ensuring every eligible voter has the opportunity to have their voice heard. Different states have different rules, but we all abide by a rigorous system of checks and balances to ensure all ballots are counted fairly and accurately.

To threaten the life and well-being of an election official or members of their family is a serious offense that must not be taken lightly or tolerated in this country. Those who engage in such actions need to be held accountable and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and our nation’s leaders should consider additional measures that can be taken this year to keep election administrators safe.

In 2022, in response to threats and deadly violence against federal judges, Congress passed a law allowing judges to shield sensitive personal information from public view. Today, given the challenges facing election officials, we strongly encourage Congress to extend these protections so the individuals administering our elections can do so, with an added layer of protection.

Regardless of who is on the ballot this November, we must remain vigilant against the lure of violence as a means of political expression. Threatening those who faithfully tabulate and certify the results of our elections is not an acceptable form of protest, no matter our political differences.

A democracy thrives when its citizens engage in civil and respectful discourse and exercise their freedom to vote. It’s time we fortify our commitment to free and fair elections, respect the vital role played by election workers in safeguarding the cornerstone of our self-governance and keep them safe from violent threats.

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