by Robin Kemp
U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff has introduced a bill to protect election workers from threats, harassment, and violence.
The Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act would extend that protection to election workers’ families and property, including volunteer elections workers and people who manage election machines and supplies, as well as to polling places and tabulation centers like “The Bunker.”
It would impose penalties including:
- a one-year prison term and/or fines for threatening to damage or intentionally damaging “any physical property being used as a polling place or tabulation center or other election infrastructure.”
- 10 years in prison and/or fines if someone gets hurt or “if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire.”
- up to life in prison and/or fines if someone is killed “or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.”
The bill comes after widespread harassment and threats against election workers during and since the 2020 Presidential election. Some of the most egregious incidents were in Georgia, including death threats against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and his family, multiple bomb threats against Fulton County polling places, and a viral video that falsely claimed an Atlanta election worker Lawrence Sloan had destroyed a ballot. The election worker went into hiding to escape the harassment.
A member of Raffensperger’s staff, Gabriel Sterling, made national headlines after insisting that the madness had to stop: “Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed,” as GPB’s Stephen Fowler reported:
In Clayton County, The Clayton Crescent witnessed numerous GOP state election observers converge on The Bunker during the Presidential tabulation, where:
- One woman told associates, “I’m about to get thrown out of here,” then shot cell phone video in two locations before a Clayton County Police officer and election official ejected her.
- At least one election observer for the Republican Party stated audible allegations of vote commingling, yet refused to describe, when asked by The Clayton Crescent, precisely what he saw that led him to believe that.
- About two dozen statewide GOP observers converged on The Bunker overnight and were loudly ordered, in two teams (“Team A” and” Team B”), where to stand. So many observers packed into the delineated observation area that The Clayton Crescent could not enter the space and CCPD officers repeatedly directed observers to get back inside the line.
- Once TV crews arrived around 3 a.m., all the observers quickly exited the building.
The Clayton Crescent did not observe any Democratic, independent (Libertarian), or nonpartisan observers engage in similar actions or make similar claims at any time while observing the 2020 Presidential election tabulation, RLA, and recount, nor during the U.S. Senate runoffs.
No observers–partisan, nonpartisan, or media–other than The Clayton Crescent were present for county election results tabulation in the School Board 8 and Commission District 1 races.
And during the U.S. Senate runoff, a Clayton County election workers picking up ballots from boxes at the close of voting pulled into a fire station and called police after he said he was tailed by two white men, Jake Ayers and Joshua Payne, who turned out to have statewide field credentials from the Georgia GOP.
“Threats of violence targeting election officials and polling places are threats against our Constitution and the right to vote,” Ossoff said. “At this moment of peril for our democracy, my bill will strengthen federal laws protecting election workers and polling places from violent threats and acts of violence.”
Many of those who have been involved in intimidating or threatening elections officials are doing so based on the debunked claim that Donald Trump won reelection. More than 60 suits making that claim have been thrown out for lack of evidence and and a freelance “audit” in Arizona by a group pushing the conspiracy showed Trump had gotten even fewer votes than officially reported.
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