US facing election worker shortage due to rise in threats as midterms loom
As the US midterm elections are right around the corner, the country is facing a shortage of election workers due to an unprecedented wave of violent threats against those performing such jobs.
Senior election security lead at the Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Kim Wyman said in an interview last month that because of violent threats against election officials, 1 in 3 workers have quit their positions over fears for their safety.
He said that state officials are having a hard time hiring for such positions.
These threats, according to Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Brennan Center’s elections and government program, can range from verbal abuse and online harassment on social media to death threats via the phone or by mail.
In some cases, he said, election workers have had their homes invaded and cars damaged.
Experts attribute this problem to inflammatory rhetoric stemming from unfounded claims that the 2020 presidential election was rigged and elections officials were complicit.
“Our elections have become very contentious,” said Jamil Jaffer, Founder and Executive Director of the National Security Institute at George Mason University’s Antonin Scalia Law
Jaffer said the US is witnessing a situation where conflict between political parties is now affecting the work of election workers, many of whom are retirees volunteering their time to count votes.
“Instead of respecting that civic duty, now people are taking out their frustrations and anger in politics on these election workers,” he said. “And that’s a real problem.”
Earlier this year, the Brennan Center for Justice published a survey on the threats local election officials are facing.
One in 6 election officials reported being threatened because of their job, and 77 percent of respondents said they felt such threats have increased in recent years, according to the poll.
Back in August, officials said they received over 1,000 reported threats and found that 11 percent of them merited federal criminal investigation.
Election workers working in closely contested states were more likely to receive threats, they said.