Padilla, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Help Recruit and Retain Election Workers
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Alex Padilla, member of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, along with Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) introduced legislation to support the recruitment and retention of election workers. This legislation is led in the House of Representatives by U.S. Representative Joe Morelle (D-N.Y.), Ranking Member of the Committee on House Administration.
Election workers continue to face intimidation and security threats and are increasingly leaving their jobs. According to a newly released survey from the Brennan Center for Justice, many election officials in states across the country have left their jobs and more plan to leave before the 2024 election due in part to threats and harassment that they face because of false allegations of voter fraud underlying the Big Lie. The Support our Election Workers Act responds to this challenge by providing resources to states to recruit and retain election workers, helping to ensure our elections are administered smoothly.
“As California’s former Secretary of State, I understand the hard work and dedication that our election workers put into every single election,” said Senator Padilla. “In recent years, however, they have faced increasing attacks on their critical work to uphold the very foundation of our democracy. That’s why I’m cosponsoring the Support Our Election Workers Act, which will help better compensate election workers so they can continue to ensure that our elections remain free and fair.”
“Our election workers are on the frontlines of our democracy, ensuring Americans can access the ballot box. But over the past few years, election officials and poll workers have faced a barrage of threats and intimidation and we’re now facing a serious worker shortage,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Our legislation would take steps to strengthen our support for election workers to make sure we’re able to recruit and retain these essential public servants for future elections.”
“For years now, election workers have faced intimidation, threats, and violence while attempting to do their jobs and facilitate our free and fair elections,” said Senator Warner. “The Election Workers Protection Act takes steps to protect the safety of the public servants who administer our elections – the cornerstone of our democracy.”
“Election workers are crucial to the strength of our democracy,” said Senator Whitehouse. “The Support Our Election Workers Act will provide states with funding to adequately pay election workers, increase recruitment and retention efforts to fill these important roles, and protect the integrity of our elections.”
“Election workers in Oregon and nationwide provide a crucial service, ensuring that all eligible voters can make their voices heard by casting a ballot. But their lives and livelihoods are under threat from extremists trying to undermine our elections,” said Senator Wyden. “These workers make up the backbone of our democratic process, and I’ll fight tooth and nail to get election workers the support they need to carry out their sacred duty.”
“Without election workers our democracy crumbles. In recent years, lies and disinformation about the presidential election have fueled armed protests and unprecedented threats and harassment targeted at election officials. We must protect our election workers and democracy by ensuring those who administer our elections are safe and protected,” said Representative Morelle.
The Support our Election Workers Act requires the Election Assistance Commission to distribute grants to states to provide increased pay for election workers, including people serving as poll workers and election officials. The legislation also requires states seeking grants to describe their plans to use such funds to retain qualified election workers and to recruit new election workers.
The legislation is endorsed by the Campaign Legal Center, Common Cause, Network Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, End Citizens United/Let America Vote Action Fund, Transparency International U.S., American Federation of Teachers, Pax Christi USA, and Sojourners.
Senator Padilla believes that our democracy is strongest when every eligible American participates. He is a champion for stronger voting rights, bipartisan election administration reforms, and increased funding to modernize and secure our elections. This month, Padilla introduced the Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act to expand protections against election interference during the ballot counting and certification processes with U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.).