FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Tuesday, March 29, 2022

AUGUSTA — The Maine House of Representatives gave unanimous initial approval of a bill to strengthen protections for election workers on Tuesday.

The bill, L.D. 1821, from Rep. Bruce White, D-Waterville, will strengthen election worker protections by adding threatening an election official to election law as a Class D crime, as well as adding a reporting procedure for any threats election officials receive. Additionally, the Secretary of State will provide de-escalation training to town and city clerks and registrars.

“Maine’s elections are some of the best run in the country, and that’s true in no small part because of the hard work and dedication of our local election clerks,” said Secretary of State Shenna Bellows. “Protecting our town and city clerks from intimidation or violence protects our elections.”

“I have had the pleasure of volunteering at elections in my hometown on a number of occasions,” said Rep. White. “Our Waterville election workers are dedicated individuals, as are all election workers across the state. They are nonpartisan and voluntarily work long hours to support the democratic process. I am grateful the committee supported my bill to provide adequate protection to those who work to ensure all of us can cast a ballot on Election Day.”

In the last year there has been a dramatic increase in documented threats against election officials all across the country. In July, the FBI announced a new law enforcement task force to deal with threats against election workers. In December, a national news organization, Reuters, conducted a nationwide investigation and identified 850 messages that met the level of threat that is a violation of federal law. “You and your family will be killed slowly.” “Watch your back. I know where you sleep, I see you sleeping. Be afraid, Be very afraid.” Here in Maine, the Secretary’s office received documented reports of at least two threats of physical violence against municipal clerks.

L.D. 1821 now goes to the Maine Senate for further votes.