Padilla Introduces Legislation to Prevent Election Subversion, Protect Election Administrators

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), member of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections, announced he is co-sponsoring new legislation to prevent election subversion and protect election administrators. Prior to his appointment to the U.S. Senate, Padilla served as California Secretary of State—the state’s chief elections officer—for six years.

“Across the country, Republican-led state legislatures are weaponizing the Big Lie to threaten election workers and undermine the non-partisan administration of our elections. We must take action to protect our democracy and the integrity of the voting process from beginning to end,” said Padilla. “It is critical that Congress provide increased protections for our election workers and the preservation of election records, including electronic records and voting machines.” 

The Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act, led by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), is co-sponsored by Senators Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“Across the country, we are seeing election administrators and officials face a barrage of threats and abusive behaviors by those seeking to overturn election results,” said Senator Klobuchar. “We need to respond to these threats head on to protect those who are on the frontlines defending our democracy. This legislation is key to fighting back against attempts to undermine our elections and ensuring our democracy works for every American.”

“These common-sense measures to ensure the integrity of our elections and American citizens’ access to the ballot should attract broad bipartisan support, and I thank Chair Klobuchar for her leadership,” said Senator Ossoff.

“The ballot box is the pulsating heart of our democracy—and any attempt to block access or interfere with the work of our election officials is completely unacceptable,” said Senator Merkley. “Free and fair elections should not be a partisan issue. It’s time for Congress to act to protect our freedom to vote, including by strengthening safeguards for our election administrators, so they can do their work in a thorough and impartial manner.”

Following recent election cycles, election administrators have often been the subject of threats and abusive behavior from those seeking to overturn election results, despite the Trump administration’s Department of Homeland Security calling the election “the most secure in American history.” Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Times reported on the racism and harassment targeted at San Luis Obispo’s head of elections by conspiracy theorists. While protections exist for voters, additional protections are needed for workers and volunteers responsible for counting and certifying ballots. Stronger measures are also needed to protect against efforts to undermine legitimate election results. 

The Protecting Election Administration from Interference Act would:

  • Expand protections for election administrators by extending existing prohibitions on intimidating or threatening voters to include election officials engaged in the counting of ballots, canvassing, and certifying election results. It is currently a federal crime to interfere with the voting process, and this would make clear that the criminal penalty extends to the counting and certifying process as well.
  • Strengthen protections for Federal election records and election infrastructure to stop election officials or others from endangering the preservation and security of cast ballots.
  • Provide judicial review for election records by allowing the Justice Department and candidates to bring lawsuits to ensure compliance with election record requirements.

This week, Padilla also joined Senators Ossoff, Klobuchar, Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Angus King (I-Maine) in introducing The Right to Vote Act to protect American citizens’ fundamental right to vote. It establishes a first-ever statutory right to vote in federal elections — protecting U.S. citizens from laws that make it harder to cast a ballot.

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