Nov 7, 2023; Columbus,, OH USA: “It’s always busy here” said a poll worker at Winterset Elementary in Northwest Columbus Tuesday, Nov 7, 2023.

State Senator Bill DeMora, D-Columbus, represents Ohio’s 25th Senate District, which encompasses areas of Franklin County.

With the March primary behind us, there is a concerning trend that must be addressed ahead of the quickly approaching November election. Poll workers in Ohio and across the country have been unable to focus entirely on their jobs to run our elections smoothly because they are also worrying about their safety.

Throughout the United States, election workers are being threatened.

  • In Nevada, election workers were sent fentanyl-laced envelopes.

  • A Georgia election worker was so fearful for their life after being the target of a barrage of racist death threats that they were forced into hiding and had to sell their house.

  • The Maine and Missouri secretaries of state were “swatted” recently in an attempt to harass them regarding the presidential ballot.

These are just some of the most terrifying examples in the recent trend of people attempting to frighten and intimidate these selfless individuals to influence elections. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, nearly 20% of election workers have experienced direct threats because of their jobs. As a result, many are unlikely to stay in their jobs for the 2024 election.

With boards of elections struggling to meet their staffing needs, we could be in for a disaster come November.

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Election workers are already overworked and underpaid.

Expecting them to deal with death threats every day on top of their already stressful jobs is outrageous.

That is why I worked with Sen. Theresa Gavarone last year to introduce Senate Bill 173, bipartisan legislation that would protect election workers and their families by exempting their addresses from public records requests.

Home addresses and cell phone numbers are already removed from public records requests for police officers, firefighters, corrections guards, mental health professionals, and many other government employees. It should be no different for the people who keep our democracy functioning.

S.B. 173 is a common-sense step in the right direction for our election workers.

Senator Bill DeMoraSenator Bill DeMora

Senator Bill DeMora

Unfortunately, S.B. 173 has not had a hearing in three months.

With November 5 right around the corner, we must ensure that our election process is completed thoroughly and safely. Protecting election workers against extremists who threaten and harass their way into power needs to be the first step.

The Ohio Senate needs to pass Senate Bill 173 and get serious about actually protecting our election system.

State Senator Bill DeMora, D-Columbus, represents Ohio’s 25th Senate District, which encompasses areas of Franklin County, including Clintonville, Upper Arlington, Grandview Heights, South Linden, Italian Village, Victorian Village, Ohio State University, and Northland.

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This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Attack on election workers insidious. Ohio bill would help stop terror.

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