Senator Reverend Warnock, Colleagues Introduce Updated Legislation to Protect Local Georgia Elections from Partisan Interference

Today, Senator Reverend Warnock, joined by Senators Klobuchar, Durbin, Feinstein, Baldwin, Wyden, Merkley, Hirono, Warner, Fetterman, and Welch introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, legislation which would institute new safeguards to insulate state election administration from partisan pressure and empower non-partisan local election officials

Senator Reverend Warnock: “We cannot allow bad actors to be able to subvert elections through anti-democratic tactics like mass voter challenges or cynically taking over local election boards to usurp the local community’s will and squeeze the people’s voices out of their own government”

The announcement comes a week after Senator Reverend Warnock, joined by his colleagues, reintroduced the landmark Freedom to Vote Act voting rights package, which includes the Preventing Election Subversion Act

This bill comes as partisan state officials in Georgia have attempted to interfere with local election boards, fueling election denialism and harassment against local election officials

In 2022, state legislators across the country  introduced over 150 bills in 27 states that would grant more power to partisan actors to interfere with or threaten election workers or processes. In seven states, including Georgia, these bills were signed into law

ICYMI from ProPublica: Since Georgia’s S.B. 202 was enacted, “about 89,000 of 100,000” challenges to voter registrations across the state of Georgia “were submitted by just six right-wing activists”

Senator Reverend Warnock to TheGrio: “We are in the midst of an all-out assault on democracy and on the freedom to vote”

Click here for a one-pager on the Preventing Election Subversion Act

WATCH AND DOWNLOAD: Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) introduces the Preventing Election Subversion Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, longtime civil rights champion U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and a group of his colleagues introduced the Preventing Election Subversion Act, legislation which would institute new safeguards to insulate state election administration from partisan pressure and empower non-partisan local election officials. U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration with oversight over federal elections and campaign finance law, Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Peter Welch (D-VT) joined the Senator in introducing the legislation.

This bill comes as partisan state officials in Georgia have attempted to interfere with local election boards, fueling election denialism and harassment against local election officials. Additionally, the announcement comes a week after Senators Reverend Warnock and Klobuchar were joined by their colleagues to reintroduce the landmark Freedom to Vote Act voting rights package, which would set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in, and includes their updated legislation to prevent election subversion.

In 2022, state legislators across the country introduced over 150 bills in 27 states, including Georgia, that would grant more power to partisan actors to interfere with or threaten election workers or processes; these bills were enacted in Georgia and 6 other states. Since Georgia’s S.B. 202, was enacted, according to from ProPublica, “about 89,000 of 100,000” challenges to voter registrations across the state of Georgia “were submitted by just six right-wing activists,” highlighting the urgent need for action as these challenges burden already-overworked election officials and undermine confidence in elections.

“We cannot allow bad actors to be able to subvert elections through anti-democratic tactics like mass voter challenges or cynically taking over local election boards to usurp the local community’s will and squeeze the people’s voices out of their own government,” said Senator Reverend Warnock. “I’m proud to be introducing the Preventing Election Subversion Act. This legislation will protect local election administration from partisan interference by bad-faith actors and combat the baseless mass challenges that our already over-worked election officials have had to address in recent years. If we are serious about election integrity in our country, we should pass this bill as soon as possible.”

“Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is critical that we protect the election workers who are on the frontlines,” said Senator Klobuchar, Chairwoman of the Committee on Rules and Administration. “This legislation is key to fighting back against attempts to undermine our elections and ensuring our democracy works for every American.”

“Our democracy rests on the guarantee of free and fair elections – a guarantee that faces continued threats in the wake of the 2020 election, the Big Lie, and subsequent election denialism. Elections must reflect the will of voters and remain insulated from bad actors’ influences regardless of partisan affiliation. I’ll always stand on the side of election integrity and democracy, and I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this bill to keep elections fair and free,” said U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“Free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy. Unfortunately, in Wisconsin, we have seen efforts to disrupt the democratic process, undermine the will of the people, and harass local election officials just for doing their jobs,” said Senator Baldwin.  “I’m proud to partner with my colleagues to better safeguard our elections, ensure Wisconsinites’ voices are heard at the ballot box, and protect our democracy.”

“The integrity of the ballot box must always be protected from partisan bad faith actors scheming to subvert Americans’ right to vote,” said Senator Wyden. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that would create new safeguards to insulate election officials from partisan pressure and empower them to carry out their sworn duty.”

“Voting rights remain under attack, but tactics to suppress voters have taken new insidious forms. Since the 2020 elections, election subversion by MAGA Republicans escalated to mass voter challenges and blatant local board of election takeovers,” said Senator Merkley. “We must protect the will of the voters who are the bedrock of our Democracy.”

“The opportunity for every American to make their voices heard is the bedrock of our democracy, but right now this right is under siege across the country,” said Senator Warner. “The Preventing Election Subversion Act is necessary to combat this attack on our democratic system. This legislation will directly protect the rights of the American people, and the officials that make our free and fair elections possible.”

“In 2020, PA election officials – from local poll workers all the way up to the PA Secretary of State – faced outrageous attacks and conspiracy theories meant to disrupt the election and undermine our democracy. Luckily, because of the honesty and hard work of so many Pennsylvanians, these anti-democratic attempts failed,” said Senator Fetterman. “Now Congress must step up and establish new protections for local election officials to ensure fair and free elections.”

“Our democracy cannot thrive if election administrators face partisan pressures and threats. This bill will ensure that election administrators can do their work freely—and that our elections remain free and fair. I’m proud to join my colleagues to support this critical legislation to safeguard our democracy,” said Senator Welch.

“Protecting the independence and safety of local election officials is vital to the integrity of our democratic processes,” said Congressman Sarbanes, Co-Chair of the Task Force on Strengthening Democracy. “We cannot allow efforts to interfere with elections threaten election worker safety or undermine Americans’ confidence that their votes will count. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation alongside Senator Warnock to help fight back against attempts to undermine election administration and protect voters’ right to cast their ballots free from intimidation.”

Election officials have become the subject of threats and harassment fueled by false allegations of election fraud. Forty-five percent of election workers nationwide say they fear for their colleagues’ safety, and over one in ten say they’re very or somewhat likely to leave before the 2024 elections. The Preventing Election Subversion Act would address these threats by:

  • Limiting arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials by permitting removals of local election officials only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office, and provide a federal cause of action to enforce this standard;
  • Allowing a local election official who has responsibility for federal elections and who has been subjected to removal proceedings by a state board of elections to remove that proceeding to federal district court for redress; and
  • Requiring that challenges to a voter’s eligibility to register to vote or to cast a ballot from anyone other than from an election official are supported by personal knowledge with respect to each individual challenged.

The Preventing Election Subversion Act is being reintroduced this Congress after Senator Reverend Warnock fought in the 117th Congress to advance the bill, including working to get all the members of the Senate Democratic Caucus to co-sponsor the bill. Senator Warnock has been a leading advocate in the Senate for enacting meaningful federal voting rights legislation, including urging his colleagues to pass federal voting rights protections in his maiden floor speech after being elected; crafting updated federal voting rights legislation to address various voter suppression efforts happening in Georgia and nationwide; and pressing the moral case in the Senate and beyond for why Congress must urgently pass legislation to protect the sacred right to vote. This past June, Public Citizen awarded Senator Warnock with the Golden Boot Award for his advocacy at the federal level to champion federal voting rights legislation and defend our democracy.

The Preventing Election Subversion Act is endorsed by Fair Fight Action; American Civil Liberties Union; Black Voters Matter; The King Center; National Domestic Workers Alliance; Care in Action; SPLC Action Fund; End Citizens United//Let America Vote; League of Women Voters; Interfaith Alliance; League of Conservation Voters; Common Cause; People For the American Way; Greenpeace USA; Interfaith Power and Light; Union of Concerned Scientists; ACLU of Georgia; NAACP Georgia State Conference; GA Coalition for the People’s Agenda; FaithWorks; Georgia Equality; Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta; GALEO Impact Fund; Georgia Stand Up; We Vote We Win; Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council; GA WAND; Common Cause Georgia; SOWEGA Rising; Represent Georgia; ProGeorgia; Councilman Ron Davis – District 1 City of Mableton, Georgia; and State Representative Derrick Jackson, Georgia House District 68.

The Preventing Election Subversion Act is also endorsed by a number of clergy, including: Reverend Lee May; Bishop Reginald Jackson; Reverend Gerald Durley; Rev. Jim Wallis, Center on Faith and Justice; Reverend Jennifer Butler, Founder, Faith in Public Life; Pastor Berlinda A. Hart Love, Sixth Episcopal District, African Methodist Episcopal Church; Reverend Victor Demond Tate, Senior Pastor, First Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church; Bishop Sonya E. Williams, MTS, The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Real Inspirational Ministries, Atlanta; Dr. Michael G. Ephraim, Sr., Bethel AME Church of Albany; Dr. Ruth W. Smith, Archbishop of Light of the World Covenant Fellowship International Co-Founder Light of the World Christian Tabernacle International; Reverend Thomas L. Hart, Co-Pastor, Brownsville Missionary Baptist Church; Reverend Dr. Gregory V. Eason, Sr., Flipper Temple AME Church; Dr. Louis Ferguson, Sr. Pastor, Greater Friendship MBC; Toni Belin Ingram, Presiding Elder, Augusta North District AME Church; Reverend Dr. Lugenia Johnson, Pastor, Mathalama AME Church; Reverend Dr. William E. Flippin, Sr., The Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church; Alan Hale Wicker, Presiding Elder (Retired); Rev. Carlton K. Taylor, Sr., Pastor, Jenkins Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church; Rev. Dr. Diane Brack Evans, D.Min., Senior Pastor, St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, Moderator of the PMBA 5th District; Rev. Dr. Brian Tillman, Director of Inclusion and Advocacy Co-Director of Connectional Ministries, North Georgia United Methodist Conference; and Minister Sabrina Murphy.

“The reintroduction of the Preventing Election Subversion Act comes at an urgent time for democracy in Georgia and nationwide. Anti-voter legislators in states across the country are using Georgia’s anti-voter SB 202 as a blueprint to seize unprecedented control of local election administration and infrastructure, challenge the eligibility of countless voters, subvert the will of the people, and push access to the ballot even further out of reach. The Preventing Election Subversion Act addresses these escalating threats head on, and includes provisions critical to protecting voters from the increasingly-alarming and sophisticated tactics being deployed to dismantle our democracy,” said Cianti Stewart Reid, Executive Director, Fair Fight Action.

“No amount of spin can mask the barriers to the ballot that Georgia voters have experienced since SB 202 became law; there is apparently no bottom to the voter-silencing tactics extremist lawmakers will take in an effort to control the outcome of elections. We wholeheartedly support the efforts of our democracy-minded U.S. senators to protect the rights of eligible Georgia voters to cast ballots with ease,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director, ACLU of Georgia.

“This year alone, we’ve seen 35 states introduce bills that threaten free and fair election administration, including bills allowing partisan interference with local election officials who are just doing their jobs. These shameful attacks undermine the bedrock of our democracy and often target Black and Brown communities. Congress must end these undemocratic state power-grabs that rob Americans of their fundamental right to vote,” said Deirdre Schifeling, National Political Director of the ACLU.

“In order to safeguard democracy, it is crucial to safeguard the invaluable rights of all Americans to participate in a free, fair, and easily accessible election. It is imperative that no individual be allowed to undermine the collective voice and choice of the American people,” said Gerald Griggs, President of NAACP’s Georgia State Conference.

“At the heart of our democracy lies the core pillar that every voice matters, and every vote counts. In 2022, we witnessed a troubling surge of efforts seeking to erode the freedom of our democratic processes, granting undue power to those who wished to disenfranchise communities of color and immigrant communities, and threatening the essence of our democratic foundation. The National Domestic Workers Alliance cannot ignore the actual consequences of such interference, particularly for domestic workers who have historically faced obstacles in their fight for equality. As an organization dedicated to championing the rights and dignity of domestic workers and caregivers, we strongly support the Preventing Election Subversion Act of 2023, reintroduced by Senator Raphael Warnock and Rules Committee Chair Amy Klobuchar,” said Hillary Holley, Civic Engagement Director, National Domestic Workers Alliance.

“Election integrity is fundamental to our democracy. Local bipartisan boards of elections play a critical role in that process. These individuals have proven themselves time and time again to be devoted public servants. Their authority and work should not be subject to intervention from the candidates and elected officials whose election these boards and workers are sworn to oversee in a fair and nonpartisan manner,” said Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality.

“Across the country, we continue to witness partisan-led efforts to undermine the election process and the dedicated officials who strive to uphold its integrity. Stripping registered voters of their power not only sows seeds of doubt and conspiracy in the process, but it adds a dangerous and disruptive burden on already overworked election officials. These challenges disproportionately affect marginalized communities, including domestic workers — who are predominantly Black and brown women — making it clear that we must take urgent action to protect their rights and ensure their voices are heard. By endorsing the Preventing Election Subversion Act of 2023 and incorporating it into the Freedom to Vote Act, Care in Action affirms our commitment to fostering a protected democracy, where every individual, including domestic workers, caregivers, and families, have an equal chance to thrive and influence the decisions that shape their lives. We are proud to stand alongside the ACLU, ACLU of Georgia, Fair Fight, Black Voters Matter, NDWA, and all those who champion justice and inclusivity in this democratic process,” said Hillary Holley, Executive Director, Care in Action.

“Voters and local election officials are foundational for our democracy,” said Margaret Huang, CEO at The SPLC’s Action Fund, “and both are under threat in the Deep South. The Preventing Election Subversion Act protects the integrity and impartiality of our elections and strengthens our democracy by ensuring that voters are not subject to frivolous and indiscriminate challenges and that local election officials can do their jobs without fear of partisan meddling. We applaud Senator Warnock for his unwavering commitment to fighting for voters in the South and urge Congress to take up and pass this important legislation.”

“As part of the growing citizen movement aimed at protecting American democracy by eliminating voter suppression and intimidation as well as ending radical subversion of our election process, We Vote We Win gives its full-throated endorsement to passage of the Freedom To Vote Act. Even as this endorsement is written the State of Georgia has announced that it will arbitrarily remove almost 200,000 citizens from voter rolls in a biannual purge that disproportionately impacts the state’s minority population. Voting is the right of every citizen. We Vote We Win advocates for and enables maximum participation in the democratic process, ensuring that elections are open, fair, and representative. The Preventing Election Subversion Act, cosponsored by Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, gives powerful support to voting, our most basic democratic institution. We encourage its swift passage,” said Deborah Scott, CEO of We Vote We Win.

“Bad actors should not be able to frivolously challenge thousands of individuals’ voting rights, waste public dollars, and threaten confidence in our elections. This legislation would help to correct an imbalance of power and protect voters and elections officials from vigilantes taking advantage of the system,” said Jennifer Lee, Policy Director, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta.

“In recent years Georgia has been at the forefront of voter suppression and election denialism, as well as efforts to subvert fair elections by coercing and intimidating workers essential to managing and maintaining our democratic process—election officials, poll workers, and citizen volunteers. It is critical that Congress take strong measures to protect every citizen’s right to vote, end partisan interference in the election process, and counter the recent rise in extremist behavior that threatens our entire democratic system. The Preventing Election Subversion Act, co-sponsored by Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock would do just that. Georgia STAND-UP strongly supports the passage of this legislation as part of the Freedom To Vote Act that will soon be reintroduced for Congressional action. We are at a critical point in our nation’s commitment to democratic principles and strong federal protections of the right to vote are urgently needed. Pass the Preventing Election Subversion Act. Help protect and preserve democracy as we know it,” said Deborah Scott, CEO of Georgia Stand-Up.

“LCV is proud to stand with Senator Reverend Warnock in supporting the Preventing Election Subversion Act, a critical bill to ensure local election officials can serve their communities without partisan interference and that voters’ fundamental right to vote is not subject to baseless registration challenges,” said Doug Lindner, Senior Director of Judiciary & Democracy at the League of Conservation Voters. “This legislation would provide much-needed protections for our election systems, and especially for voters of color and other historically marginalized groups who for generations have been targets of systemic voter suppression, and who also bear disproportionate burdens of environmental injustice.”

“Senator Warnock’s Preventing Election Subversion Act is a vital safeguard for our democracy,” said End Citizens United // Let America Vote Action Fund President Tiffany Muller. “Since 2020, MAGA Republicans have been using radical, unsubstantiated conspiracies to challenge election results they don’t like. It’s part of an ongoing effort to lay the groundwork for the Big Lie 2.0 in 2024. We applaud Senator Warnock for his continued leadership on protecting the voice and vote of every American–and ensuring that no politician can overturn the will of the people.”

“In America, the people get to decide who represents them in office,” said the Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush, president and CEO of Interfaith Alliance. “But that bedrock value is under threat by extremists who are bent on empowering themselves at the expense of the majority of Americans. Now is not the time for small measures – all of us need to meet this authoritarian threat with urgency. That’s exactly why the Preventing Election Subversion Act, which would protect the integrity of our electoral system against those trying to tear it down, is so crucial. As an organization dedicated to building an inclusive democracy, Interfaith Alliance commends Senator Warnock’s continued leadership to defend our sacred rights.”

“The Preventing Election Subversion Act is of utmost importance to faith communities. Only when each and every person has a voice and a vote can we live up to God’s call to create a world where all human beings and our planet can flourish. Access to the ballot box is critical to scriptural values of ensuring human dignity for all. Attempts to subvert elections are an affront to human freedom that God calls us to exhibit in our communal life. I am grateful to Senator Warnock for introducing this legislation,” said Reverend Jennifer Butler, Founder of Faith in Public Life.

Bill text can be found HERE. A one-pager can be found HERE.