Intimidated by extremists and coming under fire by politicians, election activists now have their own legal defense network. It’s an advantage they never needed.
WASHINGTON — It’s probably a metaphor for the times that the volunteer who led you to the polls in November now has a legal defense committee.
NS Election Official Legal Defense Network, which made its public debut on September 7, certainly offers to represent more than just election workers. Formed to counter the waves of political pressure and public bullying that election activists have faced over the past year, the organization promises to provide free legal services to anyone involved in the voting process, from secretaries of state to local election officials and volunteers. does.
The group has already received inquiries from several election officials, said the nonprofit’s executive director, David J. Baker. Center for Election Innovation and Research, who oversees the project. Without going into details, Mr Baker said his questions were “related to issues such as harassment and intimidation.”
The network is the creation of two powerhouses in Republican and Democratic legal circles, Benjamin L. Ginsberg and Bob Bauer. one in Washington Post opinion piece This month, both – Mr Ginsberg had been a prominent GOP lawyer for 38 years and Mr Bauer was both a Democratic Party lawyer in the Obama administration and a White House counsel – wrote that “this has an impact on the people overseeing the counting and casting of ballots”. Such attacks “on a free, non-partisan basis are devastating to our democracy.”
“If such attacks are not heeded, our system of self-government will suffer long-term damage,” he said.
Mr Ginsberg, who has broken ties with his party and former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from him, and Mr Bauer himself is an election expert. presided by two men Presidential Commission on Election Administration Founded in 2013 by former President Barack Obama, which – with limited success – called for modernizing election processes and tools to make voting easier and more secure.
In an interview, Mr. Bauer said that he and Mr. Ginsberg were recruiting lawyers for the Legal Defense Network, hoping to form an organization “so in any state where this happens, we are going to provide election officials with who are under siege with legal backing.” Dozens of people have already signed on to the effort, and many more are expected to join them soon, Mr Baker said.
The center is non-partisan, offering to represent election workers of any political orientation, whether they work in the red district or in the blue. But as Mr. Ginsberg and Mr. Bauer’s announcement indirectly noted, the problems facing election workers have only increased after the 2020 general election, and are almost entirely supported by Mr. Trump’s conservative supporters and Republican-controlled states. I came from legislators.
A third of election workers say they feel insecure in their jobs A survey released this summer By the Center for Bipartisan Policy and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. In Colorado, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and other states, ardent believers in Mr. Trump’s plagiarism-election lies have threatened state and local election officials and their families with violence and even death. Some election workers have gone into hiding or have sought police protection.
Republican-controlled state legislatures have responded to claims of fraud by taking control of certain aspects of election administration and subjecting election workers to fines or imprisonment for rules violations.
Trump’s bid to reverse the election
One month campaign. During his last days in office, President Donald J. Trump and his allies made an increasingly urgent effort to undermine the election results. That widespread campaign included false and outright debunked claims of electoral fraud, as well as pressuring government officials for help.
In Iowa, a new law Subject election officers who fail to comply with the new voting rules to criminal prosecution. A new Texas law leaves election workers liable for prosecution if they are judged willfully obstruct the view Monitors partisan voting. A New Rule in Florida Local election officials fined Up to $25,000 if they leave ballots unsupervised or allow voters to submit ballots after official hours.
Mr Baker of the Center for Innovation and Research called the escalating threats from election workers unconscious. “These are public civil servants in most cases,” he said. “They are not the people to do this because they want to be rich and famous. They are doing so out of a sense of duty.”
David Levine, a Washington-based election integrity expert, said the legal network is likely to be valuable because the people it will serve are really ordinary citizens. Coalition for the Security of Democracy. Mr. Levine has served as an election official in the District of Columbia and Idaho.
“It’s hard enough doing your job well when you’re under tremendous stress and working long hours, let alone wonder if your decisions could put your coworkers and your family at risk,” he said. ,” They said. “It has an important purpose to say ‘we have your back, no matter how big or small your constituency or how wealthy you or your community is.’”
Mr. Bauer has mixed feelings about Applause for the venture.
“It is difficult to say that we are enjoying success because there is an enormous amount of demand for this kind of support,” he said. “It’s a demand that’s very troubling.”