Election Officials Call for Action to Protect Democracy

Suzanne Potter | California News Service
Multiple states have strengthened protections for election workers, following a surge in threats and harassment over the past few years. Photo Credit: Krakenimages.com / Adobestock

American democracy is in mortal danger as the 2024 election approaches, according to experts at a conference held at the University of California, Los Angeles on Friday.

Millions of Americans still believe the false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, and the insurrection that took place on January 6th of 2021 proves that some are willing to resort to violence.

UCLA Law Professor Rick Hasen organized the conference and said some groups are actively working against the will of the voters.

“Elections deniers won office in non-swing states, and many are in Congress,” said Hasen. “Local election officials have shared voting machine code with conspiracy theorists, and some local election boards have tried to require the hand count of ballots or refuse to certify election results.”

In December, Congress passed reforms to the Electoral Count Act of 1887 – a rare bipartisan move to make it harder to attempt to overturn the results of a presidential election, as former President Trump did in 2020.

Republicans have defeated Democratic proposals to reduce the influence of money in politics and expand access to voting.

Neal Kelley, who served as registrar of voters in Orange County for 20 years and now chairs the Committee for Safe and Secure Elections, said citizens must combat efforts to undermine trust in the election system.

“We should continue to expand audits,” said Kelley, “partner with prosecutors on any violations of election law, improve the voter experience and use election materials to communicate facts about misinformation directly with voters.”

Michigan Secretary of State Jocyeln Benson said election denier groups are trying to infiltrate local elections offices.

“I found the effort to replace people of integrity in every potential position in democracy from poll workers to Secretaries of State,” said Benson, “with people who are not beholden to the law on the principles of democracy and are willing to skirt the law in order to advance political goals.”

Michigan Democrats are pursuing bills to increase the penalty for harassing election workers, and to ban deceptive practices in elections, such as lying to voters when seeking petition signatures and knowingly sharing false information about elections and the ability to vote.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.