August 03, 2022

Durbin Questions Witnesses in Judiciary Committee Hearing on the Threat to Election Workers

Durbin: For us to trust our election system, Members are going to have to step up and say the Big Lie is a lie

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today questioned witnesses at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled “Protecting Our Democracy’s Frontline Workers.” The hearing included testimony from officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on threats to election workers for the first time since the 2020 election—and the first formal update to Congress since DOJ’s announcement one year ago that it was launching a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials.

Durbin first questioned Kim Wyman, Senior Election Security Advisor at CISA, about the threat “doxing”—maliciously posting an individual’s private information online—has on election workers. Wyman—a Republican—served for nearly a decade as Washington’s 15th Secretary of State before her appointment at CISA.

“How big a problem is doxing and what is CISA doing to help state and local election officials guard against the release of personal information online?” asked Durbin.

Wyman responded that a large part of why she joined CISA is to provide state and local election officials with resources to combat doxing and other threats. Specifically, she stated “we are working with the Department of Justice and law enforcement partners to get election officials to report these incidents.” Due to doxing and other threats and harassment, Wyman believes it will be hard to recruit election workers.

Durbin then questioned Kenneth A. Polite, Jr., Assistant Attorney General of DOJ’s Criminal Division about the task force DOJ created to combat these threats. He also asked what the task force is doing about doxing.

“People don't want to work supervising elections and follow the law if they're going to be harassed and intimidated. I don't want them to be harassed and intimidated, but it is happening. So what is your task force doing about it?” Durbin asked.

Polite confirmed that the task force has reviewed over 1,000 reports, stating, “the task force over the last year has been committed and, in fact, has conducted a review of every referral of a harassing and offensive communication that members have received.” Polite also confirmed the task force is taking doxing very seriously. The task force was created “to address the rise in threats against election officials.” The task force’s work has resulted in four prosecutions to date.

Durbin concluded by stating, “We've got to look at the basics, and the basics say protect your democracy and protect the people who by and large are not making a fortune but are volunteering their time to make this election process work. And for them to be intimidated to the point where they drop out of the picture or God forbid, there are some results that don't reflect reality, that to me is fundamental to our democracy.”

Video of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s questions in Committee is available here for TV Stations.

During the second panel, Durbin thanked Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson; New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver; Amy Cohen, Executive Director of the National Association of State Election Directors; and Matt Crane, a Republican and Executive Director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, for their service to our democracy and election system. Durbin highlighted the toll the Big Lie has had on election workers, which has caused an unprecedented number of threats since the 2020 election.

Durbin said, “The Big Lie is a lie. The Stop the Steal campaign has gotten out of hand. It means we have to face the reality there is one person who continues to inspire hate and violence to election officials across the United States… What’s happening to our election system? Harassment has been around a long time but not at this level. The fact that my Republican colleagues don’t want to talk about this is really troubling… I’m  just going to close by saying thank you for being here. I think this hearing gets to the heart of if we are going to have an election process we can trust. For us to get to that point, Members are going to have to step up and say the Big Lie is a lie. Stop the Steal has to stop. We’ve got to have a conversation at the highest levels of our government about an election system we can trust.”

Video of Durbin’s testimony during the second panel is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s testimony during the second panel is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s testimony during the second panel is available here.

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