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New Laws Target Election Workers

Combining with extralegal harassment to put elections at risk.
May 16, 2022
New Laws Target Election Workers
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 13: A view of voting booths at the Santa Clara County registrar of voters office on October 13, 2020 in San Jose, California. The Santa Clara County registrar of voters is preparing to take in and process thousands of ballots as early voting is underway in the state of California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

[On the May 13, 2022 episode of The Bulwark’s “Beg to Differ” podcast, guest Ben Ginsberg discussed the potential threats of criminal prosecution that election officials may face for just doing their jobs.]

Mona Charen: You’ve also raised the alarm about the number of experienced election officials who are saying they are planning to leave their jobs—about 25 percent. . . . And I think there’s a law in Iowa, correct me if I’m wrong, that is going to impose civil penalties on election workers if they make an honest mistake. Fill us in on that a little bit.

Ben Ginsberg: Yeah, that’s one of the really pernicious laws aimed at election subversion, where election officials can face criminal penalties for really what amounts to just doing their jobs. And those are laws that have been put in in at least six states, including Iowa, that would make election officials face the threat of criminal penalties for really minor things that are part of the electoral process—providing too much help to a voter who asked questions can be criminalized in some states. And that’s really, really dangerous.

That goes sort of along with the problem of harassment of election officials, both physical and phone threats and mental harassment. And that’s a real problem. It is leading to experienced election officials resigning and leaving their jobs at an unprecedented rate.

Who fills those jobs, of course, becomes important. At the very least they’ll be less experienced, but there is also a lot of election deniers who think it’d be really cool to run elections in the manner that Donald Trump called for in the 2020 aftermath.

Charen: Yep. And Steve Bannon is actively recruiting people to fill those positions.

Benjamin L. Ginsberg

Ben Ginsberg is a nationally known political law advocate with four decades of experience representing participants in the political process. He was national counsel for the Bush-Cheney presidential campaigns in 2000 and 2004 and the Romney for President campaigns in 2008 and 2012.