© 2024
Virginia's Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

A bill that would offer additional protections to election workers is gaining traction in Richmond

FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place.
Thomas Peipert
FILE - "I Voted" stickers are displayed at a polling place.

Members of the General Assembly are considering legislation aimed at protecting election workers from threats and harassment.

Election workers across Virginia increasingly face harassment and intimidation. That's the reason why Senator Adam Ebbin, a Democrat from Alexandria, introduced a bill to protect them.

"The reasoning for this bill is that there’s been violent and relentless threats against election officials and poll workers as a trend in recent years," Ebbin says.

Republican Senator Mark Obenshain of Rockingham County worries that the new felony charges might be too broad.

"So, if somebody is demanding that an election official comply with the law and intimidates that election official who is not complying with the law, they’d be guilty of this," Obenshain says.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Surovell says intimidating election workers is unacceptable.

"It has to be a threat to kill or do bodily injury. ‘I’m going to kick your butt if you don't follow the law,' is something that shouldn't be said in a polling place," the Majority Leader says. "I'm sorry."

Ebbin's bill is expected to be considered by the Senate Finance Committee Thursday afternoon.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.