A new campaign launched today by Issue One is elevating the voices of election officials and workers in the policy debate in Washington, D.C. at a time when the country is learning new and disturbing details from the January 6th Committee, including today’s testimonies from Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia Secretary of State Chief Operating Officer Gabriel Sterling, about the massive election disinformation campaign led by former President Trump and his allies which made election officials the targets of threats and intimidation, and gave rise to new state laws to allow partisans to take over election administration for political gain.
‘Faces of Democracy’ is powered by the personal stories and experiences of election officials and poll workers who ensured the 2020 election was conducted fairly, safely, and securely despite an unprecedented pandemic. Many have since faced harassment and threats simply for doing their jobs. The bipartisan group of officials, who have traveled to the nation’s capital from around the country, will be meeting with Members of Congress and the White House to advocate for expanded protections and a significant increase in regular funding to deliver the same result in 2022, 2024, and beyond.
“Supporting our election infrastructure through regular and predictable funding is critical to ensuring secure and credible elections,” said Leigh Chapman, Acting Secretary of State for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and a member of ‘Faces of Democracy.’ “During the global pandemic, states and localities across the country faced significant funding shortfalls. Private philanthropy stepped up at the last moment to help close the funding gap, but future elections shouldn’t need to rely on private donors. The federal government must deliver the resources election officials need to safely and fairly administer our elections.”
Amid a global health pandemic that posed significant challenges, the 2020 election saw the greatest voter turnout in over a century and was declared “the most secure in American history.” Despite these successes, election officials have faced mounting harassment as a result of baseless election fraud claims, leading 1 in 5 election officials to say they plan to leave their positions before the 2024 election. More than 75% of election officials say threats against election administrators and staff have increased in recent years, and a recent investigation documented more than 850 threatening messages as workers continue to face intense political pressure and intimidation.
“No election official should face political pressure, threats, or intimidation for doing their jobs and protecting the integrity of our elections,” said Al Schmidt, former Philadelphia City Commissioner who is also participating in the campaign. “If we want to maintain a functioning democracy, we must keep our elections free, fair, and safe. Anyone who violently threatens an election worker or their family must be held fully accountable under our rule of law.”
“Our brave election officials and poll workers safeguarded our democracy in 2020,” said Dokhi Fassihian, deputy chief of strategy and program at Issue One. “Nobody knows what makes our elections free, fair, and secure better than them. This campaign brings their voice and expertise to the policy debate and directly to the American people. Anyone who cares about preserving our freedoms, particularly our leaders in Congress, should pay attention and support these individuals with the tools and resources they need to keep the machinery of our democracy running.”
The bipartisan group of sitting and former election officials and poll workers are calling for significant and regular investment in our election infrastructure, new funding streams that election officials can utilize specifically for threat monitoring, the expansion of existing federal protections against threats and intimidation, increased privacy protections, and a bipartisan update to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure the will of the people is upheld.
“Election officials are the guardians of our democracy,” said Amber McReynolds, the former director of elections for Denver, CO who is currently serving as a governor for the United States Postal Service and as a member of Issue One’s National Council on Election Integrity. “Because of their hard work and commitment to fairness and transparency, U.S. elections are the safest and most secure in the world. Now, it’s time for Congress to step up and take action to support our election workers and strengthen our elections.”
Issue: Election Administration