Voting booths, Cleveland Heights, OH
Voting booths in the 2019 general election in Cleveland Heights, OH. Photo credit: Tim Evanson / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

In a troubling sign for US democracy, a majority of election workers report that they feel less safe amid an increase in threats, harassment, and abuse.

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Nearly four in ten local election officials have experienced threats, harassment, and abuse according to a new survey from the Brennan Center for Justice. That is an eight percent increase over 2023. 

These figures are troubling but hardly surprising. Since even before his 2020 loss, Donald Trump has relentlessly attempted to undermine the integrity of US elections. He has been so successful that about one-third of Americans (and a stunning two-thirds of Republicans) believe that Joe Biden was not legitimately elected, even though there is no evidence to support that, and Trump failed in all attempts to overturn the results through lawsuits.

It stands to reason that the number of incidents of threats, harassment, and abuse will only increase in the next six months. 

Nearly half of all threats go unreported, and still the number of reports filed with state law enforcement has doubled since last year. 

On the plus side, an overwhelming majority of local election officials said that their states had taken measures to improve the security of elections, the security of election workers, or both. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed stated that legislation intended to protect them also gave them a sense of safety. 

While 83 percent of election workers who received additional funding said this money has made the staff feel safer, the same percentage also stated that their current budgets are insufficient to safeguard elections. About a quarter of them have been denied additional funding.  

Some of the steps taken to increase the security of election workers are troubling and unbecoming of what is supposedly a stable democracy. 

For example, Arizona conducted active shooting drills, Michigan provided de-escalation training, and bullet-proof glass was installed in Florida. 

That any of these measures are necessary is mind-boggling and evidence of how much Trump’s rhetoric has damaged democracy in the US.

Another troubling sign is that election workers believe that, in spite of additional funds and various steps taken across the country, they are less safe now than before. A stunning 70% of them said they are feeling less safe now than before, and only two percent of them reported feeling more safe.

That is unlikely to change as Trump continues to question the outcome of the 2020 election, which he lost by seven million votes to Biden.

In an interview this week, he said that he would only accept the results of the upcoming election “if everything is honest.” What does that mean? The former president will certainly define “honest” in any way he wants if he loses to Biden again. 


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