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Senator Rev. Warnock and his colleagues introduce updated legislation to protect Georgia local elections from partisan interference

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Senator Rev. Warnock and his colleagues introduce updated legislation to protect Georgia local elections from partisan interference

Raphael Warnock

On July 27, 2023, longtime civil rights activist US Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and a group of his colleagues introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, a law that would introduce new safeguards to isolate the state election administration from partisan pressures and to strengthen non-partisan – partisan local election officials. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chair of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight of federal elections and campaign finance laws, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (DCA), Tammy Baldwin (DWI), Ron Wyden (D- OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (DVA), John Fetterman (D-PA) and Peter Welch (D-VT) joined the Senator to introduce the legislation.

This bill comes at a time when partisan Georgia state officials have attempted to meddle with local election committees, resulting in ballot denial and harassment of local election officials. Additionally, the announcement comes a week after their peers joined Senators Reverend Warnock and Klobuchar in reinstating the landmark Freedom to Vote Act package, which would set basic national standards to ensure all Americans get their votes up can cast the way that works best for them, regardless of the zip code they live in, and includes their updated laws to prevent election hijacking.

In 2022, state legislatures across the country introduced over 150 bills in 27 states, including Georgia, that would give partisan actors more power to disrupt or threaten election officials or processes; These bills were enacted in Georgia and six other states. According to ProPublica, since Georgia’s passage of SB 202, “approximately 89,000 out of 100,000” voter registration challenges across the state of Georgia “have been filed by just six right-wing activists,” underscoring the urgent need for action as these challenges place a strain on already-overworked election officials and undermines confidence in the elections.

“We cannot allow bad actors to succeed in undermining elections through undemocratic tactics, such as mass election campaigns or the cynical takeover of local electoral commissions, to usurp the will of the local community and oust the popular vote from their own government said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I am proud to introduce the Prevention of Electoral Subversion Act… If we are serious about the integrity of our country’s elections, we should pass this law as soon as possible.”

Election officials have become the subject of threats and harassment, fueled by false allegations of voter fraud.

45 percent of poll workers across the country say they fear for the safety of their colleagues, and over one in 10 say they are very or fairly likely to leave before the 2024 election. The Preventing Election Subversion Act would address these threats by:

• Limiting arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials by allowing removal of local election officials only for inefficiency, dereliction of duty or misconduct in office, and providing a state cause of action to enforce that standard;

• Allow a local election official responsible for federal elections who is subject to impeachment proceedings by a state elections agency to refer those proceedings to a federal district court for redress; And

• Requires that challenges to a voter’s entitlement to challenge himself or herself to vote, or to have someone other than an election official vote, be supported by personal knowledge of each challenged person.

The Preventing Election Subversion Act is reintroduced this Congress after Senator Reverend Warnock campaigned in the 117th Congress to push the bill forward, including campaigning to get all members of the Senate Democratic faction to co-sponsor the bill . Senator Warnock has been a leading advocate in the Senate for the passage of meaningful state voting rights legislation. In his first speech after his election, he called on his colleagues to adopt nationwide voting rights protections. Drafting updated state suffrage laws to counter various voter suppression efforts in Georgia and across the country; and to advance the moral argument in the Senate and beyond as to why Congress urgently needs to pass legislation to protect sacred suffrage. Last June, Public Citizen presented Senator Warnock with the Golden Boot Award for his federal commitment to advocating federal electoral legislation and defending our democracy.

Senator Reverend Warnock to TheGrio: “We are in the midst of a full-scale attack on democracy and freedom of choice.”

The invoice text can be found at bit.ly/457S7xB. You can find a one-pager at bit.ly/3Kkm19Q.