Sen. Ossoff Urges DOJ and FBI To Take Action To Protect Election Workers

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) speaks during a press conference. (Sen. Ossoff)

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI on Tuesday, urging them to take measures to ensure they are prepared to fight threats against election workers in the 2024 primary and general elections.

“Protecting the integrity of our elections depends on protecting those who run them,” Ossoff wrote. “Yet over the last several years, election workers in Georgia and across the country have reported increased intimidation, harassment, and threats of violence.”

He cited a Brennan Center Survey that polled local election officials across the country from February to March, which found that 38% of election workers report experiencing threats, harassment or abuse. Also, 70% of them said they believe threats have increased since 2020.

Ossoff explained that he saw direct impacts of this in his own state during the 2022 election.

“Violent threats against election workers and officials have contributed to significant staff turnover, posing a challenge to the efficient administration of elections,” Ossoff wrote in the letter. “In the 2022 election cycle, six of Georgia’s most populous counties, representing nearly a third of all active voters in the state, had new election directors.”

Now, he specifically asks the DOJ and FBI to “prioritize efforts to protect our election workers and to investigate any such threats expeditiously.”

In 2021, the DOJ launched an Election Threats Task Force, and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland delivered remarks about it in May, saying the department has secured prison sentences for numerous individuals who threatened election officials.

“If you threaten to harm or kill an election worker, volunteer, or official, the Justice Department will find you. And we will hold you accountable,” Garland said.

In his letter, Ossoff asked both agencies several questions, including how many criminal prosecutions the DOJ has initiated against those who threatened election officials since 2021 and how they determine to pursue prosecution in these cases.

He also asked what hiring, training and administrative changes the FBI has made to address these threats and what they plan to do going forward, along with inquiring how many investigations the FBI has opened related to threats of violence to election officials.

This is not the first time Ossoff has brought up this issue. In March, he introduced the Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act — which is now stalled in the Senate — and he joined other Democrats to push for federal election funding in the FY 2025 budget, which Republicans have made clear they seek to slash.

He requested the DOJ and FBI respond to his inquiries by July 26, which is around 100 days before the 2024 election.

Read Ossoff’s letter here.

Read more about threats to election workers here.