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June 26, 2024 ABA Task Force for American Democracy

Deterring Threats to Election Workers

The Bipartisan Policy Center, July 2022


This report makes recommendations for the Department of Justice to better deter threats to and protect election workers. It argues that if more steps are not taken to protect election officials, we risk replacement of many current officials by people who are less experienced or “rogue workers” who are sympathetic to conspiracies. The report recommends that the DOJ publish guidance for local law enforcement, FBI field offices, and others involved in ensuring election security. The guidance should include current statutes, ideas for improving safety of election workers, and an emphasis on DOJ’s prioritization of protecting election officials. The report could also clarify circumstances under which the DOJ thinks prosecution under federal law is appropriate, given some overlap with state law. They also recommend that the DOJ provide guidance for how to hold people civilly liable for actions in intimidating election workers, such that it could be adopted by state legislatures. 

Key Findings/Messages

DOJ should publish guidance to equip local law enforcement and FBI field offices with tools to better address threats to election officials. The DOJ should also synthesize best practices including: how to report a threat, how to implement security measures, and how to balance legal considerations related to election worker safety and privacy. 

Key Recommendations Made

  • Election Worker Safety: DOJ should publish best practices that can be adopted by local law enforcement, election officials, and state governments to help address threats.
  • Holding People Who Threaten Election Workers Accountable: DOJ should publish guidance that can be used by local law enforcement, FBI, and others that clarifies statutes and conditions for prosecution to help enable local actors in deterring and holding people accountable for intimidations and threats.