About 1 in 3 election officials have felt unsafe because of their jobs, a new survey of election workers released Tuesday found, and 1 in 6 say they've been threatened for their work running America's elections.
The surveywas commissioned by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law and conducted online by Benenson Strategy Group, using a sample of 233 local elections officials. The survey, conducted April 1-7, reported a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 6.4 percentage points. It was released as part of a report about the threats facing election workers by the Brennan Center and the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington think tank.
NBC News this year interviewed a dozen election officials who described months of harassment and threats as they sought to run an election that had already been made more difficult by the coronavirus pandemic. Many officials — used to lives outside the spotlight — described phones' ringing off the hook and frequent harassment online. Some said they needed security details to protect themselves and their families.
The Associated Press reported this week that many elections officials are quitting or retiring early amid concerns of the politicization of their jobs. The Brennan Center noted in the report that almost 35 percent of local election officials in 2020 were eligible to retire by the 2024 election.
The survey also found that a vast majority of local officials say social media has made their jobs more difficult and that half of all officials say social media has made their jobs more dangerous, too.
Asked about their concerns during the 2020 election cycle, however, election officials said exposure to Covid-19 was their top worry: 62 percent of surveyed election officials said they were somewhat or very concerned about Covid-19 exposure, compared to just 35 percent who said they were somewhat or very concerned about being harassed on the job.
In the report, the Brennan Center suggested that the Justice Department investigate threats against election officials and workers and that states pass laws to provide security for affected election workers.