Do More to Protect Election Workers, Democracy

DOJ, local and state officials need to get more aggressive

Vanessa Gallman
3 min readSep 23, 2023


Image by Gino Crescoli from Pixabay

In June 2021, the U.S. Department of Justice created the Election Threats Task Force to better protect election workers — those in elected and appointed positions, as well as volunteers.

This month, the task force announced it has charged 14 cases and secured nine convictions.

That’s not good enough.

Neither is the $30 million in grant money the Department of Homeland Security designated to phyiscallyshore up election offices and enhance cybersecurity.

Federal officials can only file the most serious cases — those where violence was likely. Yet there needs to be more coordination with state and local governments to file lesser penalties. And pro-democracy groups should work with law-enforcement to promote the historic contributions of election workers and to explain that even hacking and doxxing can amount to attacks on democracy.

“A functioning democracy requires that the public servants who administer our elections are able to do their jobs without fearing for their lives,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

Yet this has been exactly the case since Donald Trump’s BIg Lie that the 2000 election was stolen from him, which fueled the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. And with Trump running for president again, both organized and lone-wolf attacks are bound to increase. Death threats have even forced the DOJ to even set up protections for their own employees.

About one in five election workers — many of them retirees — know someone who left their election job for safety reasons and 73 percent of local election officials said harassment had increased, according to a Brennan Center for Justice survey published in April.

About 11 percent of current elections officials say they are very or somewhat likely to leave before November 2024. If so, the country will have lost about 1.5 election officials per day between the November 2020 and 2024 elections, according to the Brennan study.

The DOJ task force has reviewed more than 2,000 reports of threats and harassment…



Vanessa Gallman

Experienced journalist, educator and retired opinion-page editor with occasional musings