August 03, 2022

Judiciary Committee Releases Testimony of Secretaries of State Who Endured Threats Following the 2020 Election

In their prepared remarks, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver call on Congress to protect the security of our elections and election workers

WASHINGTON – The Senate Judiciary Committee released prepared testimony from Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver during today’s hearing entitled “Protecting our Democracy’s Frontline Workers.”

In 2022, Benson received a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award for her work during the 2020 election, when she received an onslaught of threats, including by armed protestors at her house. Toulouse Oliver similarly received a number of threats following the 2020 election, including recent threats citing 2000 Mules—a widely debunked movie that purports to show widespread election fraud in the 2020 election. During today’s hearing, the Secretaries of State will each describe their personal experience and explain how ongoing threats and harassment have prompted many election workers to leave their positions, as well as address the Big Lie’s role in fueling these threats.

Key Benson quotes as prepared:

“I’m here today because we need your help. We cannot have a secure democracy if we do not protect the security of the people who administer, protect, and stand guard over our elections.”

“Those unhappy with the results of the 2020 presidential election have perpetuated an unprecedented, coordinated campaign to erode the public’s confidence in one of the most secure, accessible and transparent elections in our history.”

“The targets are all of us – Republican, Democratic and independent election officials alike – many working in small towns and cities and rural counties in every state in this country.”

“The result of the threats and harassment is that one in three election officials reports feeling unsafe on a regular basis and more than half fear for the safety of their colleagues in future elections. Twenty percent now say it is unlikely they will continue serving as election officials through 2024, which every indication suggests will be yet another contested election cycle. Why? Because they believe too many political leaders are attacking the system that they know is fair and honest.”

“[N]o matter how one voted or who they voted for, where they live, or what they look like, their vote is the lifeblood of our democracy. It forms the foundation of who we are as Americans. Ensuring that every vote counts is the responsibility of every single person serving in elected office today. It’s in our oath of office, when we pledge to support the United States Constitution, which establishes every citizen’s fundamental right to vote.”

Key Toulouse Oliver quotes as prepared:

“Our nation’s election workers have been caught in the crossfire and have themselves become the targets of harassment and threats.”

“Lies and misinformation about how America’s elections are run and about the people who run them have proliferated to an unprecedented degree since 2020. Among a significant portion of the country the continuous drumbeat of these lies has created an atmosphere of distrust in our elections and our election officials.”

“Growing distrust about our election systems leads to either apathy or indignation, both of which will have detrimental effects on our entire system of government. For the election officials and volunteer poll workers that our elections depend on, I fear that threats, coupled with the general vitriol online and in the media directed at all aspects of our elections, will cause them so much stress and uncertainty that they will simply not want to do the work anymore. We have already seen this happening in many parts of the country. For voters, I fear that the flood of misinformation will compel them to lose more and more trust in the system and they will no longer participate in our democracy.”

“We must show the public that threats against election officials will not be tolerated.”

Full text of Secretary Benson’s prepared remarks are available here 

Full text of Secretary Toulouse Oliver’s prepared remarks are available here 

Full hearing on threats against election workers can be viewed here.

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