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tv   State Local Officials Testify on Threats Against Election Workers  CSPAN  October 28, 2021 2:09am-4:19am EDT

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>> good afternoon. i would like to take ranking member blunt who is voting right now. r. kelly's, our witnesses for being here today as well for this very important hearing. this is about something we have been seeing all over the country. i don't think this will be the last time that we are talking about it.
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that is threats on our public servants who are working on the frontline protecting our democracy. thank you for coming to talk about this. the arizona secretary of state, wade henderson, the interim president, the conference on civil and human rights as well as matt masterson. also, we are going to hear mostly from kentucky secretary state michael adams. i think him for appearing as well.
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that right depends on leisure workers across the country, including volunteers who work to ensure that our elections are free and fair. in the last year, election officials and election workers in red, blue and purple states have faced a barrage of threats and abusive conduct from those seeking to interact the 20 election. i heard about threats from lessons in my estate. threats targeting our own secretary of state and others across the country. they did not stop after the 2020 election or after the violent insurrection on january 6.
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they have considered laws with funds for performing their duties in the same manner that made the 2020 election with its record turnout in the middle of a health crisis so successful in terms of people voting. according to a survey of local election officials, nearly one in three felt unsafe because of their job and one in six have received threats of violence. we should stop and remember that number again. one in six local election officials have reported experiencing threats of violence. there is no shortage of horrific examples in the last election. in nevada, election worker and veteran received calls telling her she was going to die. in georgia, poll workers in 10 counties received from threats
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before the senate runoff election. in washington, and election official's home address was posted online along with crosshairs over her photo and the threat your days are numbered. these are not isolated incidents and all three of the election administrators testifying today can attest to having their lives threatened. election workers are facing increasing pressure in their job as they passed legislation threatening removal of -- the secretary of state in iowa is required to issue a fine of up to $10,000 anytime a county commissioner has a technical infraction. in georgia, the restrictive voting law enacted in march gives unchecked power to the state election board to remove
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local election officials. we heard about these partisan takeovers of elections at our field hearing in atlanta from one election official who had been ousted by the state legislature over a decade of service. in portly, these threats have raised concerns about state and local government ability to retain election officials and recruit workers to administer future elections. we are also seeing states taking actions that undermine public trust in our elections as well as sham audits we saw in arizona that are happening is states like pennsylvania. in the face of the threat confronting collections, it is up to her to take action to take his head on. the freedom to vote at which i introduced with the members of the voting rights working group are conveyed by leader shooter -- rumor. that included senators padilla
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and mentioned and kane. that bill would do exactly that. the legislation includes clinical provisions like center also who worked on this committee, his right to vote act which would allow voters to challenge practices that interfere with the right to vote in court. including actions to empower state legislature to determine the outcome of elections instead of voters. it includes senator warren off's preventing election subversion act, to protect election officials from a remote for impartial regions -- reasons. adding that includes my protecting election administration from interference act to create actions against interfering with county ballots, canvassing and certifying collections as well as strengthening protections for
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election records. protecting those on the front lines of our democracy should extend beyond partisanship. that is why we announce this hearing. i appreciated the strong statement he made going into this hearing. i am hopeful that this hearing will enable us to hear directly from our witnesses about those striking at the foundation of our system of government so we can work toward finding some common ground on how we can protect election administration and are election workers. with that i turn it over to my friend and colleague, ranking member blunt. >> thank you. thank you for calling this important hearing. i would think our witnesses for joining us today. i spent 20 years as a local election official.
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for more than 200 years, states have been responsible for elections. they often managed multiple elections in a year. sometimes with different jurisdictions the same day with jurisdictional boundaries that don't exactly meet. this just throws another cap occasion into the challenges that local election officials have. they deal with the logistics that those elections bring. i am grateful to them for doing that. our role in congress is to support states and their administration elections and
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give them the help they need to innovate and serve the needs of their citizens. this type of work can be done in a bipartisan manner. historically, that is what congress has done. after the election in 2000, congress passed the help america vote act. it was not called until state and local governments run election act, because it did not do that. it did not occur to members of congress that is what the system called for. i think it is better when we work together. we've repeatedly worked on iterations of a bill that has been solely crafted in this congress by our friends on the other side. senator klobuchar, i have tried hard to do what we can to bring the election community together. we have heard from local election officials that they have been subject to increasing
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threats going about their jobs for the american people. while i anticipate we will hear a lot from my colleagues about these threats, none of us want to see it happen. this is not an issue implicating one party. when i used to do election training sessions, i would say there are two of you doing every job. one was to watch each other, but another to protect each other by making sure you take that job seriously and your obligation to the other person working alongside you just as seriously. threats and attempts to harm election officials, poll workers, or voters should be investigated, and prosecuted where appropriate. we have a chance to lower the temperature of the rhetoric's surrounding elections. today, the hearing provides an
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opportunity to get -- this committee, and on these issues, the u.s. senate. we can work together to learn about emerging threats to election administration, how states deal with threats, share information about threats with other states, law enforcement, and federal government, and how congress can help states improve their ability to respond to threats of violence. this provides us with an opportunity to hear about states response to cyber security threats, as we know states will deal with those type of threats, as well. i've heard from many officials who would like increased and improved information sharing, including information sharing about threats of physical safety for election officials, coworkers, and voters. as states administer elections, access to more and better information will ensure elections continue to run safely and smoothly.
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a supporting election officials by ensuring they have the best information available to them to instill confidence in their part of the process and just as importantly, strong confidence in results of our elections. election workers deserve to be safe and secure in their jobs. voters deserve to be safe marking their balance. as i mentioned, it is a very important issue deserving serious attention. i would like to thank my colleagues participating today and our witnesses. i look forward to a productive discussion. >> very good. thank you very much. i also welcome senator merkley and senator highsmith, and senator king, who i see on the video screen. our first witness today is arizona secretary of state katie hobbs. she served as arizona's 21st secretary of state since 2019. previously served in the arizona
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state senate, including as minority leader and in the arizona state house. earlier in her career, she worked as a social worker and focused on issues, including domestic violence, behavioral health, and homelessness. she also worked for one of the largest ms took abuse centers in the country. she earned a bachelors degree in her work for northern arizona university and a masters degree from arizona state university. a second witness is philadelphia city commissioner al schmidt, commissioner schmidt is serving his third term and has served on the commission since 2011. as city commissioner, he's one of three members, and the only republican, on the bipartisan board of elections. commissioner schmidt began his career as the policy analyst for the presidential commission on
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holocaust assets and worked as a senior analyst at the government accountability office. he earned a ba from allegheny college and a phd in history from brandeis university. -- senator blunt will be introducing. i wanted to make sure we did not miss you. our third witness is wade henderson. he's currently serving as the interim president and ceo of the leadership conference on civil and human rights. he previously served as president of the leadership conference from 1996 to 2016 and has held leadership roles with the naacp and american civil liberties union. he is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the
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hubert humphrey award for civil and human rights, something near and dear to my heart. and the u.s. state department's eleanor roosevelt rights award. mr. henderson earned his bachelors degree from howard university and his law degree from rutgers. >> glad to have the secretary of state join us from kentucky. secretary of state since 2020. here virtually with us today. glad he can be part of this hearing. previously served on the state board of elections in 2016, and served until he was elected secretary of state. in 2007, he began his private practice in election law, first
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general counsel to the republican governors association, previously holding positions with senator mcconnell, kentucky governor fletcher, and department of justice in the bush administration. earned his bachelors degree from the university of louisville, law degree from harvard. matt masterson, the second witness invited by us, is currently a nonresident fellow with the stanford internet observatory. from 2018 through 2020, he served as the senior cyber advisor at the cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency. before that, from 2014 to 2018, he served on the election assistance commission, including a period as chairman. i'm sure many of my colleagues will run member him from appearances before the committee in both of those jobs. early in his career, he worked for the ohio secretary of state's office, where he helped oversee voting systems, certification, and efforts.
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as a bashers degree, a law degree from the school of law. we are glad to have him and the other three with us today. >> very good. if the witnesses can please stand and raise their right hand. do you swear that the testimony you give before the committee will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you god? thank you. you can be seated. and we will receive your testimony and recognize each of you for a statement. we will begin with secretary hobbs. >> thank you. chairwoman coble shark, ranking member blunt, thank you for the invitation to be here today. next week will mark one year since the 2020 general election. in arizona and other states,
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some choose to believe the 2020 election has still not ended. to be clear, president biden won arizona in a free and fair election, conducted to the letter of the law. in arizona, there were at least nine postelection legal challenges. although every challenge failed, as the lawsuits melted, so did the threats against me and other officials. two weeks after the election, armed protesters gathered outside my home and chanted "katie, come out and play, we are watching you." i never expected holding this office would result in far right trolls threatening my children, my husband's employment at a children's hospital, or calling my office, saying i deserve to die, and asking "what is she wearing today so she will be easy to get." these threats have continued against me and others. but what concerns me more is the
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content harassment faced by public servants who administer our elections. nearly every day, there on the receiving end of abusive phone calls and emails. in arizona, orange jumpsuits were mailed to county supervisors. last november as election workers tabulated ballots inside the tabulation center, armed protesters were at a frequent presence outside. we are already seeing high turnover among election staff, and i fear many more will reach a breaking point and decide this line of public service is no longer worth it. in truth, arizona has one of the best run election systems in the country, with robust processes to ensure integrity of the election. it includes observer access during tabulation, pre-and post election logic and accuracy testing of machines, as well as postelection hand count audits. arizona law also requires each
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county's board of supervisors to canvas elections and certify results to my office. after the processes took place in november, i sat alongside governor doug ducey, attorney general mark turner rich, and chief justice burton out to certify the 2020 election. despite the bipartisan certification of the results, our legislature decided to perform a ballot review. this exercise performed by our legislature was not an audit. the ballot review can best be described as a sham. the review was plagued by errors. errors that are simply unacceptable to actually election professionals. the arizona senate hired a firm with no meaningful election experience or knowledge. they made up the rules as they went on. millions in tax dollars were wasted funding the audit and replacing voting machines
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rendered unusable by them. it was billed as the most transparent audit in american history, now potentially facing contempt of court for failing to produce audit documents. the entire exercise was in effort to sow doubt in the 2020 election results and being used to justify voting restrictions. from the outset of the ballot reveal, i said arizona would become the blueprint for those looking to undermine elections. and as other states now considered similar politically motivated reviews, i am familiar with the problems such reviews create. audits must be establishing rules and procedures. they must protect voter data and must be free of partisan influence. the ballot review in arizona failed at each of these things and should not be replicated elsewhere. many have remarked the aftermath
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of the 2020 election was a reminder of how fragile american democracy truly is. but at every turn, americans have stepped up to protect it. election workers who counted ballots fairly and accurately to uphold the will of the people, officials who certified free and fair elections, despite threats of political retribution or worse. judges who rejected thousands of -- dozens of partisan lawsuits with police officers who spilled their grounds. everyone who believed american democracy had stepped up and protected it. one person who spoke out against the big lie was grant woods, a former republican attorney general from arizona and an aging senator john mccain. he passed away suddenly this weekend, and i would be remiss to take the opportunity to acknowledge him and the way he stepped up to defend elections in arizona and across the country.
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now it is your turn. continued inaction in the face of these threats to undermine our democracy will have long-term consequences for the future of our country. i support the freedom to vote act and appreciate the committee for holding this hearing. thank you. >> thank you very much, i did not know that about grant woods. i had met him before. i'm sorry for your loss. thank you for mentioning that. next up, commissioner schmidt. >> allowing me to testify on this important topic. i mouth schmidt in philadelphia. the commissioners oversee all operations in the city from voter registration to election certification. i was first elected to this position in 2011, reelected in 2015, 2019. and have overseen more than two
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dozen elections in my nearly 10 years of service. i am a republican, and i believe counting votes in our democracy is our sacred responsibility. for doing my job counting votes, i would like to quickly share with you some of the messages sent to me and my family. tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot." it included our address, my children's names, a picture of our home. cops can't help you. "heads on spikes. treasonous schmidts." you betrayed our country, perhaps guns and bullets will soon arrive at -- provides my address, names our children. we steal lives. additional threats my family asked not to share because they are so graphic and disturbing.
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i have three little kids. my youngest is seven years old. no matter what our party affiliation, and is not ok. let's be clear, this is domestic terrorists. the whole point is to terrorize, intimidate, and coerce, and prevent our country from operating as it should. it happened in a city where our democracy first began. it is not just threats. these aren't empty promises. two men who drove up from virginia were arrested outside of the pennsylvania convention center where election operations were consolidated in the 2020 election to straighten things out and intercept an imaginary truckload of counterfeit ballots headed to the convention center. guns and ammunition, and lock pick tools. and those men were also arrested just across the street here on
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january 6. they, like many others, were lied to, and deranged by those lies. and for what? to discredit an election that wasn't even close. unfortunately, my experience isn't unique. my colleagues and staff received threats. democratic, republican election officials have been subjected to similar threats are far worse. as a recent report in the bipartisan center details, nearly one in five officials list threats to their lives as a job-related concern. the threats rise in frequency and intensity each time election officials and bad faith political actors spread -- misinformation about the 2020 election. it creates a vicious cycle in which officials lied to constituents, deceived constituents believed those
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lies, and demanded they do the same to fix the problem that never occurred, and elected officials used the demands as an excuse to do something. most often, doing something means making voting lists acceptable and fuels more violent threats to election officials. this is a nationwide problem that demands a national response. chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blend, and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i know working across party lines to find common ground on any topic is challenging, let alone on election reform. for the sake of our republic, i hope we can work together to protect election administrators and our democratic institutions. >> thank you so much. i'm so sorry this happened to you and your family, and i'm also sorry to you. it is unbelievably disturbing
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testimony. next up, i think you are with us remotely. thank you. >> chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blend, members of the committee. good afternoon. i'm michael adams. kentucky secretary of state and chief elections. i got my start in election policy at a little intern desk 22 years ago. honored to be back here, although virtually. today we discussed an unpleasant topic. the news is not all bad. voting has never been as accessible nor as secure as it has been in 21 months of my term. last year, three month after being sworn in, i asked our legislature to grant me, a republican, and our democratic governor, joined emergency powers to halt election procedures as necessary to ensure public safety in the
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plandemic without sacrificing voter access or ballot integrity. we made the absentee balloting more available and extended in person learning well beyond the one election day kentucky had from 1891 through 2019. the result was a primary and general election that set records for turnout, yet no spike in covid-19 deriving from the force in voting. it proved so successful and popular, that our republican-controlled legislature put a nearly unanimous of eight to make temporary changes permanent. early voting and absentee ballot request, drop boxes, signature care process, and more. all this good news, ironically, lends itself to a higher level of frustration by me, by our other election officials, our legislators, about the unwillingness of certain on both sides of the aisle to accept the reality our election process is accessible and secure.
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in our current populist antiestablishment political culture, part of this is organic , reflexive refusal to believe anybody in the government. this is not unique to elections, as we have seen the vaccination rates. however, part of it is not organic. rather it is driven by political actors who perceive some benefits in misinforming voters. addressing this should not be a partisan issue. because misinformation is not limited to one side. in kentucky, election officials were subject to a misinformation campaign that resulted in numerous threats of violence to other verbal abuse. the so-called allies in kentucky effort threatened against us not come from conservatives worried about voter fraud, it came from progressives believed we were engaged in voter suppression. worse, the misinformation effort was given oxygen by senior figures in the national democratic party. i'll remain grateful to our democratic governor for defending our state and calling
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out these lies. i'm not here to take political shots, engage in moral, or diminish the experiences of secretary hobbs or any other election official. to the contrary, i am here to show that the problem is even wider. the first step in ensuring the safety of our election officials is to do no harm yourselves. please keep your rhetoric factual and responsible. this is the most serious threat our election system faces, because it is upstream of so many other problems we face. the safety of election officials, willingness of election officials, including volunteer poll workers, to serve. voter turnout, polarization, and ultimately, the accepted legitimacy of our democratic system. election officials are at risk. but we are not unique in this. public officials are at risk. those of you serving our nation in the u.s. capitol certainly don't need me to inform you of this. in kentucky, our democratic governor has received threats from someone far right.
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republican at -- our republican attorney general has received threats on the far left. my fear is school board members will be next if they are not already. it shows the problem is worse than we might think. also, less acceptable to a simple solution in the form of yet another federal law. at its best, congress plays a constructive role in election administration by providing funding. reliable, predictable funding, to our states. chipping in the share of election costs alongside state and local elections. these efforts have been bipartisan. and accepted across the political spectrum. i have no wish you pass any particular election laws forward, but if you do, i hope you will do so in a nonideological, bipartisan fashion, rather than furthering polarization that reflects our politics. thank you. >> thank you very much. next up, mr. wade henderson. go ahead.
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>> good afternoon, chairwoman klobuchar, ranking member blend, and members of the committee. thank you for the opportunity to testify. i'm grateful for your work to make sure every voter can safely and freely cast a ballot that counts. since the u.s. supreme court's decision in shelby county versus holder gutted the heart of the voting rights act, we have seen a tidal wave of measures to restrict the vote. just last year, surrounding the 2020 presidential election, attempts to deny the franchise closely resembled the jim crow era in both intent and intensity. some of the most troubling developments have been attacks on election officials and the election process itself. make no mistake, this is race discrimination changing form and
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adapting to circumstances of today. it is no less egregious, and no less perilous for our democracy. today, i want to talk about how these threats to election administration are ultimately about denying people their freedom to vote. first, let's look at the astonishing rise in threats against election workers and their families. election workers and administrators are absolutely essential to a successful democracy. no election official should live in fear. yet as you have heard, arizona's secretary of state, commissioner schmidt, and others have received death threats in connection with their jobs. a recent study by the brennan center, which has been cited, found one in three election workers feel unsafe. one in five listed threats to their lives as a job-related
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concern. it is simply unconscionable that after showing up during a pandemic to deliver democracy to voters, election officials and workers are now the target of vicious attacks. these threats have devastating consequences. not only for the people in danger, but for democracy itself. growing concerns around the safety and integrity of election work will lead to an exodus of election staff, with a disastrous ripple effect across our democratic processes. for voters, that can mean longer wait times, closure of polling places, a rise in voter intimidation and harassment at the polls, a widespread loss of confidence in elections. lawmakers must take immediate steps to keep the wheels of democracy turning safely for voters and election workers alike. second, we must focus on the latest efforts to sabotage
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elections through chamois election reviews. whatever our color, background, or zip code, we believe voters pick our leaders. are leaders do not pick their voters. but in the wake of the 2020 election, some officials began pushing anti-voter reveals that are catastrophic to the integrity of our democracy. they also divert crucial time and taxpayer dollars from the issues that matter most to voters. president trump's department of homeland security called the 2020 election the most secure in our history. nonetheless, officials launched a sham review in arizona's largest and most diverse county that ultimately revealed a count closely matching the official results. this arizona review has now formed the basis for others in pennsylvania, wisconsin, and florida. why? because despite pervasive barriers to the ballot, black,
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brown, and native voters are turning out in the polls in historic numbers. election review scams are blatant attempts to intimidate voters and discount their votes in the face of their emerging political power. lastly, i want to acknowledge other equally sinister attempts to subvert democracy. in august, the leadership conference published more than 10 state reports that document pervasive patterns, racial discrimination, and voting. since the 2020 election, states including florida, arizona, georgia, and texas have adopted sweeping anti-voter laws that make it harder to vote by mail, limit or prohibit ballot drop boxes, and force voters to navigate burdensome redtape to cast a vote that counts. senators, i want to be clear. these years of overt and anti-voter tactics are taking
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their toll on voters of color. communities trying to engage politically are forced to navigate tremendous barriers to the polls. but these unconscionable tactics are also causing great fear and disillusionment about even participating at all. and perhaps most destructive, these tactics push americans to lose hope in democracy, and lose faith in the power of their vote. time and again, voters have shown up for democracy. now, i employed this body to show up for voters before it is too late. members of the senate must swiftly pass the freedom to vote act and john lewis voting rights advancement act, and set the basic federal foundation for voting access. i look forward to working with all of you to enact reasonable protections to build a democracy that works for all. thank you. lynn: -- sen. klobuchar: thank you very much.
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next up, mr. masterson. >> thank you. members of the committee. i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today to discuss the ongoing and present pervasive threats targeting officials who support elections. officials were placed at the center of national attention in a way not seen in decades, if ever. record turnout in the smooth election day validated election officials'incredible work. their reward for this professionalism and bravery? months of threats against their lives and lives of their family members. the perpetrators of these threats were fueled by online conspiracies that cast election officials as malicious actors bent on meddling election results. in oculus glitches in human errors have been stitched together to fit broad conspiratorial narratives as alternative explanations for election results. recently, myself and a team of students at sanford published an oral history of the 2020
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election, where we interviewed folks like commissioner schmidt and secretary hobbs, and election officials from across the country and political spectrum. virtually all of those who we interviewed shared stories of calls, emails, social media posts threatening them, staff, and families. secretary barbara sagacity of nevada, a republican, shared she, her family, and staff were targeted with death threats and had drones flown over her house. a local republican official from michigan received death threats, including one that made clear when she went out in public, she would find a knife at her throat. as the bipartisan florida supervisors of elections recently wrote in a memo to their voters, "during and after the 2020 presidential election, the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by misinformation, disinformation, and mail information that sows discord and trust in america's
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electoral process. many of us have been threatened by fellow citizens who have been led astray by these deceptions. if additional protection is not provided to those who are threatened, many election officials may face the horrible choice of either continuing to receive threats for doing their jobs, or leaving the profession. the field is already losing officials at an alarming pace. so how do we respond to these threats and best support election officials? first, we must find elections consistently at the state, local, and federal level. regular investment is needed, and a shared funding structure should be implement it in which all levels of government pay for their portion of each election. second, we must ensure the physical security of election officials, offices, and staff across the country. the recent creation of the election threats task force at the department of justice is important and encouraging step, but more must be done. publication and use of threat data from the doj election task
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force should provide necessary data after each election regarding the scope and scale of threats against election officials and workers, and responses to those threats. increased information sharing regarding those threats, in order to ensure comprehensive data is collected, analyzed, and shared, local and state law enforcement should share activity directed against election officials and workers with federal law enforcement within their state, in return, federal law enforcement should report to state and local officials regarding the activity in the jurisdiction with full transparency regarding any actions taken, including if investigations have been initiated. penalties following the 2020 election, few consequences for those who have threatened election officials. congress and state legislatures should pass laws offering harsher penalties for threats or acts of violence against election officials viewing them as a threat against our democracy. privacy. many threats against election officials and staff target their
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homes and families. more must be done to protect their private information from malicious actors. physical security and oxime training. the cybersecurity and infrastructure agency should build on the work they did with physical security in 2020 and offer training on physical security and doxxing prevention measures, utilizing those present in all 50 states and territories. we must also continue to improve the cyber resilience of american elections, securing the infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with protecting these officials. it starts by working to implement precertification audits of paper ballots, and establishing working on a voluntary basis, cybersecurity baselines to include things like multifactor authentication, network segmentation, access controls, patch management, and moving election websites
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and additional scalable proactive services to state and local election officials. our elections are imperfect, massive, messy, underfunded, and under resourced. but they are accurate, secure, accessible, and fair because of the tireless work of officials. the only response to the sustained attack on our democracy and against those who run it is a sustained investment. and those working hard to protect it. thank you and i look forward to your questions. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much. just a factual question. do you all agree that threats against election workers increased during and after the 2020 election? >> absolutely. >> yes. >> yes. >> yes. sen. klobuchar: do you believe it makes it harder for states and local governments to recruit and retain election workers and volunteers? >> yes. >> yes. >> yes. sen. klobuchar: secretary hobbs,
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expand on the extent of threats based on what you have seen and experienced as era nona -- arizona secretary. do you see action to address it? >> absolutely. as i shared in my testimony, there were armed protesters outside of my house. i had to have 24 hour security and install security features in my home. my son's phone number was doxxed, and my husband workplace called with horrible accusations urging he should be fired because of me. no one should have to face this kind of behavior because of their work as an election official. so federal action is needed. there should be consistency across the country, in terms of the text and for election workers. just as many of the voter protections provided and freedom to vote act, it should not matter what state you are in to determine the level of protections you are afforded. furthermore, if it is for
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federal election or federal office, there should be federal protections. sen. klobuchar: commissioner schmidt, share with the committee more about your decision to speak up about the threats against you, your staff, and your family. >> i wrestled with it a little bit on the front end. on one hand, you don't want to acknowledge people who do something like this. you don't want to scratch that itch, you don't want them to know that they got to you, to know that you read their text messages, or email messages. on one hand, that was why i was hesitant at first to share all of this. on the other hand, it is important to know exactly who these people are and what they are trying to do. obviously, not just to me, to many others.
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in many cases, far worse than mine. at the end of the day, i think it was a matter of being public about it outweighed my reluctance to acknowledge that they were even doing something like this. sen. klobuchar: you previously noted because of where you are located in the city, you had law enforcement help, legal support. speak to how that compares to experiences that might be faced by election workers in rural parts of your state or country, and sometimes they're more difficult situations. >> i would say despite all of this, i was fortunate to be in philadelphia at the pennsylvania convention center surrounded by literally hundreds of police officers philadelphia sheriffs to keep us safe so we can go about doing our job, which was to count votes while
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demonstrations were occurring right out front. whenever i left the convention center, sheriffs went with me, make sure people who came at me were kept at bay, going back and forth to city hall from the convention center. i was fortunate we had city solicitors at our disposal to send off the litigation and other things we were going through as we were trying to do our job. most counties in pennsylvania do not have that. they might have one part-time solicitor. they certainly don't have that access to resources we had in philadelphia. relatively compared to them, it's almost embarrassing to be the person sharing this with you today. because i'm sure many of them were not as well protected as i was.
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at home, we installed a comprehensive home security system and made other investments to protect our home from people like this. sen. klobuchar: thank you. mr. henderson, comment briefly on the strong federal protections for henderson -- election workers like those in the freedom to vote act. >> as we heard from both secretary hobbs and commissioner schmidt, the courage they have demonstrated in carrying out their responsibilities should not become the standard by which election administrators are measured. how can we possibly expect individuals, regardless of party affiliation, to come to the american people's rescue by serving effectively in their job as an election administrator when they face death threats that go beyond the norm based on disinformation that continues to spew forth in ways that corrupt
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the integrity of our elections? certainly we think the for the people of the freedom to vote act and john lewis voting rights advancement act have protections that election workers can benefit from. the fact they challenged -- that legislation challenges the way responsibilities, that is to say it protects them from the kind of interference we are seeing. it protects them from being replaced by partisan individuals who have no desire to carry out a free and fair election, but instead manipulate the outcome in ways that affect the partisan nature of that you action. what we have before us now are individuals who exemplify the best in our election system. and the legislation under consideration in the senate has a number of provisions that would address these bills being
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enacted in various states. and notably, i should point out, in a number of swing states that will make a difference in future elections. whether it is arizona, wisconsin, pennsylvania, texas, georgia. we see state legislators and act these provisions, and only by enacting the freedom to vote act and the john lewis voting rights advancement act can we hope to address these issues. sen. klobuchar: thank you very much. i will turn it over, and senator merkley will be chair until i vote. >> thank you, chair. for the three active election officials right now. secretary hobbs, secretary adams, and commissioner schmidt. i think everyone said it was harder to recruit and retain election workers now. what are you doing about it, and when are your next elections?
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>> we have jurisdictional elections going on right now. most of those or by mail. so we do not see the need to recruit as many poll workers as we will in the 2022 election. we will keep efforts of recruitment up and hope people take part of civic engagement. it is absolutely a concern and we see turnover in our offices and local election offices. >> is your bigger concern the people that work polling places on election day, or the people permanently identified as part of the election process in your office or the local election officials? >> our concern is the loss of the professional administration and the drain, not just in arizona, but the country, of folks who do this work. and as i said before, it is not worth it anymore for these not
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very high paying jobs, combined with the level of threat they are experiencing at the moment. >> when you talk about the not high jobs, you talk about the not very high permanent jobs -- cracks government jobs. -- as opposed to other jobs. secretary adams, welcome back to the room, even if it is virtually. you are an intern 22 years ago. what are you seeing happen? have you had elections where you've had to have a significant number of people available to conduct elections that day since november of 2020, and if you have, what have you done about that? i'm sure you have. >> this year is an off here in kentucky. one year off from elections every four year cycle. we do have special elections for legislative seats starting later
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this week with early voting. we have not seen much of an impact, in terms of professional election administrators, say state board of election staff, or my staff in the secretary of state's office. we have not seen unusually large turnover. we have seen a lot of turnover with county clerks, who are elected officials. 120 counties in kentucky, all choose their own officials. last year, we had two clerks resign in the middle of their term. they had enough. they were exhausted. it wasn't because they were threatened or harassed, it was because the job was extremely hard last year and they were just done. this year, there's about 15 or so of 120 clerks who plan to retire next year. unusually large number of retirement. it is attributed more to
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exhaustion with the job. we have made voting much easier in kentucky than it had been previously. that is a harder job now to run an election. so we have seen retirements. with respect to poll workers, 15,000 volunteer poll workers to run an election in kentucky. i testified to our legislature in 2019 before covid, that we had a crisis brewing with poll workers, because they typically are well into 60's and 70's, and as they are increasingly unavailable, they are being replaced by younger generations. gen x has not stepped up in a volunteer fashion. so that is a big problem we have. we are losing poll workers. and we have to find a way to inspire people to volunteer. >> commissioner schmidt, what have you seen with your permanent election day in and day out structure, and any concerns about recruiting people
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at the polling places for election day? >> in for the -- cracks infill -- >> there are two from the minority party, and i will be running for reelection in 2013. a big concern for me is i would be replaced by someone elected intent on denying the integrity of the election regardless of evidence, or on the other site, who will not be a sufficient check or balance to the democrat majority on the philadelphia election board. at the local level, it's been an ongoing problem with losing poll workers, as the secretary just said predilections have been increasingly complex. our city and many counties in the commonwealth acquired newer and better voting technology that is a lot more complicated,
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or at least a lot newer to the election board workers. in addition to the strain we talked about here. our commonwealth also just instituted no excuse mail-in ballot voting, which is an entirely new system of voting to the commonwealth of pennsylvania. we had absent a valid voting. elections have become more complex. people say to me as i'm sure they say too many who work in elections. what do you do with the other 363 days of the year? really, we are working every day to make sure election day runs smoothly. there are no redos when it comes to elections. they have to be right every time. >> thank you, chairman. >> we are going to now turn to senator angus king, who i believe is joining us electronically.
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>> thank you. glad to be with you. secretary adams, delighted to have you with us. i want to commend you for your comments at the beginning. part of the problem is we have converted political opponents into enemies. everything is a war. and once we go down that road, it is a heated rhetoric. we really need to back off from that. i have sitting next to me a big chart of abraham lincoln's second inaugural, that is where he said "malice toward none and charity for all." if anyone had reason for malice, it was lincoln at the end of the civil war, but he did it. i commend you for that. is voter fraud a problem in kentucky? >> i would maintain it is not currently. it has happened in the past. typically it has occurred in situations where there is a perfect storm.
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number one, it happens at the local level. it is not occurring at a statewide level or congressional level. it is happening in a small town, or small county, where a few votes can potentially tip a race. number two is generally for a job that involves patronage. in other words, some sort of reward for the winner and the ability to distribute funds, or jobs, what have you. number three, it occurs at a place where there is poverty, where votes can be bought for a small amount of money. that is where we see voter fraud. i will not wish it away. it happens, and we work hard to prevent it. i think what you said is important. what you said is consistent with everything i have read and heard about voter fraud across the country. that is it is isolated. it is not widespread, massive, millions of votes. it is one person votes for a dead person or something. but it is unusual.
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in rare cases. we are talking around the problem. a lot of the conversation has been around the danger and threats to election officials. the reason those threats are being made is people are being told something that is untrue. that there was massive fraud, and election officials were in on the fraud. mr. matheson, couldn't a lot of this be alleviated if leaders tell the truth to their followers? >> thank you. certainly our work at the observatory and the work i did was to push people to the trusted sources of information about the facts for elections. your state and local election officials who have information about not only the security and integrity of the process, but accessibility and how the system works. for us, one of the core recommendations we have in combating the disinformation around elections is really
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driving and elevating the voices of our state and local officials , as is done in this hearing, to share the facts about how elections are run in the states, the fact that across all 50 states, elections are bipartisan, transparent, and professional. rex -- >> massive voter fraud has become a pretext for substantial changes for election law around the country in the name of ballot integrity, when it is the classic definition of a solution in search of a problem. where you are making significant changes, which will inevitably affect a significant number of people. mr. schmidt, what about my thought -- there are not enough state troopers in the world to guard every election worker. so bearing that in mind, is in the best solution for our leaders to tell the truth to their followers about the fact
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that 2020 and every election in recent history has been straightforward and honest, and trying to wean people from this idea that there is widespread, massive voter fraud? >> not only are there not enough state troopers to protect every election officials, but certainly not to protect their families, as well. i think you are right, in terms of the route, or the core of the problem, and the solution normally to lies is to tell the truth. that is only met with so much success. typically it would be the antidote. i have not seen that as successful as i would like it to be. i think it is really about removing motivations for elected officials to lie about elections on one hand. and on the other hand, to take seriously and successfully prosecute these sort of threats targeting election officials. trying to it is madea them to either do one thing or not do
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another. to do their job. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> thank you very much. we will turn to senator highsmith. >> thank you. my question is for secretary adams. in your testimony, you said voting in kentucky has never been as successful or secure as it has since you took office 21 months ago. the kentucky senator on this panel, republican leader, our goal is should make it easier to vote and hard to cheat. it sounds like you have been successful in achieving that in kentucky. i applaud you on that achievement. one of the key proposals you focused on as been to press the state legislature to strengthen kentucky's voting laws and voter id. now due to your efforts, i think that you have accomplished that,
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voters have to show a photo id when casting ballots, as well as in mississippi, requiring photo id to be shown at the polls. there's been a lot of debate in this committee about voter id and what sorts of ids states should require. secretary adams, why do you think it is important to require a photo id specifically? >> i think we need the same degree of securing our elections that we need in many other respects in our lives. cashing a paycheck, entering a government building, getting on a plane, that is reasonable. it is also importing the laws be written in a humane way, and they insurer people have a path to get an id for free. we budgeted several hundred thousand dollars to make sure people had access to photo ids. and we have our election -- we implemented this, even in a
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pandemic, did not have the disenfranchisement folks thought we might have. part of it is for the obvious reasons. the other reason is to have credibility when doing what i've tried to do, make voting easier also. the best way to do election policy is to be bipartisan and cross ideological to work with both sides. and you give both sides what they're concerned about. democrats concerned about access. republicans concerned about security and rightly so. the best of both worlds is to say yes to them. >> truly helping secure accurate voters, elections in kentucky, you think it has been a step that did that? >> it is not a magic wand, to be sure. there are things we have done that i think added security, as well. absentee ballot request and tracking portal. we use it to verify voter identity and more efficiently ensure access to the absentee ballot and help the voter track
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ballot from the comfort of her home, see where it is in the system. holds us accountable, is appropriate. i asked for and got an additional voter rolls cleaned up. these things all got democratic votes in our legislature, because they were paired with expanded access to the ballot. i think that is away, with respect to congress, to make election policies in a bipartisan way. >> in your testimony, you spoke about the election reform bill enacted in kentucky. i want to outline how impressive a bipartisan achievement that bill was. it passed the kentucky house of representatives only three days after introduction by an overwhelming vote of 93-4. it passed the kentucky state senate a few weeks later by an overwhelming vote of 33-3. it was signed into law by the democratic governor a few weeks after that. i'm hopeful we can capture some
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of that. kentucky spirit in the u.s. senate and learn to pursue legislation to bring us together and achieve overwhelming support just as you did in kentucky. how has kentucky been able to achieve such broad support for its election reforms when the issue has become so partisan in other states and on the federal level? >> lock of having to run an election in a pandemic. i approached our legislature and asked for emergency powers to be able to make changes, to acclimate our system to that reality. i was the new kid in town, a republican and we had a hyper positive race, i asked the governor be included. i'd seen what had happened in other states where there was
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partisan warfare between democrats and republicans in the states and it led to election breakdowns. i didn't want that to happen in our state. when congress has been at its best, folks of come together across party lines. i hope we are going to do that again. >> thank you so much, my time is expired. >> thank you very much. >> madam chairman, if you waited a bit longer i could call myself. i want to ask you secretary hobbs, some questions. the review of the ballots in arizona, to date turn up cases of noncitizens being organized to vote? >> no. >> did you have some sort of
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vote by mail? yes. >> in a previous hearing of this committee, we heard a strategy of voting by mail was to allow illegal immigrants to vote. is there any sense of that in arizona? >> absolutely not, but by mail was established by an arizona legislature -- 75% of our voters every election, closer to 80% this last one. >> we also have before this committee, the secretary of state of michigan, i'm going ask her the question, because of their vote by mail, if they had reviewed and done a search for that type of fraud. she had, she sent us a letter that laid out every step to ensure that it is citizens voting. and found zero cases there.
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as far as i am aware, we have zero cases in oregon, oregon initiated vote by mail. we did have in oregon, over the course of a decade, in which 61 million ballots were cast, sustained cases, 38 cases of voter fraud. i'm not saying it does not exist. the two main types or somebody filling out a ballot in one state, then moving to another state and filling out a ballot in their new state. that is not a coordinated criminal strategy to undermine the legitimacy of elections, i do not believe. >> i would agree with you. the same kind of instances we are seeing in arizona. >> that led me to my next question. what kind of problems you did find, did you find ballots shipp ed in from china? i heard this was a major problem in arizona elections.
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>> there were no ballots shipped in from china or anywhere else. >> the fraud from the second audit, this extended audit? >> it wasn't an audit. the procedures they went through were not procedures at all. certainly not acceptable at a level by election professionals. they were on a fishing expedition to find problems. the problems they came up with in their report were manufactured. the proper place for election challenges is in court. as i mentioned in my opening, we had nine such legal challenges in arizona and they all failed. there is no evidence of the widespread fraud continuing to be alleged in arizona. >> let me turn to mr. henderson. we are hearing that fraud is continuing to be alleged in
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arizona after basically none was found according to the secretary of state. you had mentioned one of the steps in this strategy is weaponizing the examination of ballots or reviews about's to spread distrust in our election system. what is the purpose of this effort to undermine election systems when they are working well? >> thank you, senator markley. it should be noted that in arizona, which was the home of the first audit, it was quite clear that the maricopa county focus, the largest and most diverse county in arizona, was intended to demonstrate, by way of the private company, soderberg ninjas, that fraudulent votes had been counted and determined the outcome of the election. fortunately, the thorough, not
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review itself, because the review was not thorough, but examination of what occurred in arizona has demonstrated clearly that no fraud existed. yet that effort has spawned similar initiatives in states like wisconsin and texas and pennsylvania. in texas alone, the state was one by the previous president, notwithstanding, there is a desire to determine whether fraudulent votes were cast. certainly, the use of a focus, as you mentioned on the documented immigrants, the effort to focus on latino voters, african-american voters, asian-american voters, usually occurs based on the demographic changes that have taken place in those communities and the emergence of new sources of political power among communities of color. this effort to hold reviews,
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these sham reviews is intended to intimidate those voters and discourage them from coming out in future elections. we have seen that in state after state. texas is a good example, where a previous investigation words in that -- was conducted focused on individuals who were legally resident but had not yet become citizens, and somehow suggesting that population had cast votes urgently. there was no evidence to that effect. many of the voters who had previously been in that pool, legally admitted resident aliens, went on to become u.s. citizens and should have been entitled to vote. the effort to intimidate them into not coming back at future elections has been consistent throughout states that have chosen to have these audits. that is why we say there
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intended to disenfranchise future voters. >> thank you, i appreciate that. >> senator hagerty is next. >> thank you chair global chart -- chair klobuchar. in your experience, secretary adams, in accordance with local conditions and preferences? or when the rules are wrong, is it dictated in partisan fashion by washington politicians and bureaucrats? >> i cannot say that i have lived through that experience. i believe part of the reason we were able to produce this reform is because we were allowed to. we were allowed to as a state, solve these problems for ourselves. one thing i have seen in pulling
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, folks had confidence in me. they had more confidence in their county clerk. that does not surprise me. they know their county clerk. they go to church with them, budget bursary with them. that makes them likely are these policies will be supported by the people. they see people they know being the poll workers and county clerks. >> that makes complete sense. numerous polls show the overwhelming majority of americans support commonsense election security measures like voter id laws. many states have enacted such laws. in your view, would federal laws that nullify such laws increase or decrease election security? >> i think the thing we must have for the system to work his confidence in our elections. i do think there are some things that would reduce the security of our process. there's no question they would
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significantly impact the confidence in our system. the reason i was able to get expanded access to the polls is because i also had security measures to show folks who were serious -- these things have to be paired together. >> do you think federal legislation proposed by democrats that allows unlimited ballot harvesting in every state would reduce election security? >> i do. i can tell you about a specific case in kentucky. we had a small town goat -- she in gauged in about harvesting scheme. her control public housing allowed her to put them under duress, -- those folks delivered the ballots back. there was no state law against ballot harvesting at the time. there is now. that is the kind of stuff i do not want to see happen,
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certainly going into an election year with local elections as we have on the about in 2022, that is when you typically see these events occur. i would certainly oppose any federal effort to overcome our new law. >> we will turn to election administration itself. in your view, would enacting on a partisan basis, federal legislation proposed by democrats that override state election laws puts while -- washington politicians in charge of elections in every state, with that constitute a threat to election administration, in and of itself. >> certainly i think it would be a threat to public confidence. if there's just one version of election policy, hoisted added inept level at all states, i do not think it will be well received. people have confidence in may, their county clerk, their poll
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workers. i think folks tend to be in more contact with us and cs is directly accountable. trust us more on these issues. i do think federalism is a good thing. diversity is a good thing. the dualism respects that diversity. i do not think congress should tell california or arizona or utah or any state that thinks differently from kentucky how to run their elections. all states ought to have the right to make those decisions. >> i would turn to a different topic that is alright been raised. that has to do with the reprehensible notion of threats surrounding elections, particularly threats to election officials, which i condemn any level. you know in your testimony it has never been easier to vote in kentucky. that is the case in tennessee as well. we had record turnout in 2020 thank state's leadership.
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you note that your election officials -- misinformation campaign by left-wing group. can you elaborate more on that unfortunate episode? >> i am not trying to target anybody or make -- this is unfortunately not limited to one side of the aisle. in this case, there was a misinformation campaign that alleged that kentucky was engaged in vote suppression. that it was some sort of act by republicans, feeling the need to keep folks from voting. it was reprehensible. number one person the pushback on this was our democratic governor. he had the courage to stand up to the national media and the state groups and -- we made it
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easier to vote than we ever had in kentucky before. with the highest turnout we've ever had in a primary election, in the pandemic last year. thousands of abuse calls, very few of them were actual threats. a lot of harassment, verbal abusive staff. this had two problems. one, and how we treat people, the other problem is unfortunately, our polls -- so some kentuckians were calling to get information about where to vote on election day and were unable to get through. there is a suppression angle to this as well. >> inc. you for sharing the experience. -- thank you for sharing that experience. >> thank you, senator padilla. >> as most of you know, before i
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joined the senate, i served as california's chief election officer for six years. in that time, i recall working with so many local election administrators up and down the state of california, as well as my colleagues from states around the country. with the shared objective of making sure our elections were as safe and secure and accessible as possible. in california, i believe we succeeded in making that goal. that is no small part due to the hard work, dedication and professionalism of our local elections workers. these dedicated americans are indispensable to the strength of our democracy. it is because of that experience , that has been so deeply and personally troubling for me to hear story after story of election workers who now fear going to work. who are afraid that their
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nonpartisan work to help americans exercise the right to vote, and that their votes be fairly counted will make them the subject of threats of violence or worse. election workers deserve better. this -- the hope that we, working together can deliver that. a question for secretary hobbs, beyond the recruitment of qualified full-time election workers, successful elections also rely on the army of temporary poll workers to help staff the polls, to guide voters and perform day of election tasks like checking voters in, checking registration status, providing ballots, etc.. are you concerned that this may
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also affect the administration of elections, including causing somebody to not volunteer or beat elected to volunteer? >> that is a concern we have in arizona. people stepped up in 20 to fulfill this role in record numbers. we are going to continue to try those recruitment efforts. i hope people will be engaged in that way. i think what folks have seen, in the aftermath of the 2020 election, it is going to put a chilling effect on that. >> on a related front, we know the presidential election of 2020 was a fair election. period. joseph biden was elected president of the united states. period. even today, more than nine months after president biden was
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sworn in, there are many in the republican party or unwilling to acknowledge these basic facts. instead, the right wing ecosystem of misinformation and disinformation continues to perpetuate the big lie, that the election was stolen. senate republicans refused to speak up against it. mr. masterson, what is the long-term effects of this type of misinformation and disinformation campaigns, including how they relate to the security of future elections or voter confidence? >> thank you, senator padilla, it is good to see you. the long-term consequences start with the erosion of trust and doubt and deception around our democratic institutions. the reality, if our voters do not trust or believe the results of our elections, our democracy in -- is unhealthy.
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struggling to succeed. the reality is, that has implications for the security of those who work in elections. as implications for america on the national stage, and the health of our abuse -- ability to work with and support emerging democracies across the world. it impacts us specifically -- cynically in all -- civically. we have seen that around covid and the covid vaccine, as our information ecosystem continues to suffer. >> as we recall experiencing. madam chair, i would like cap jade to finish my next question, the former secretary of state in me shining through. a professional postelection audit, based on proven standards and methodologies are an
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important tool for ensuring the accuracy and integrity of election results, while building voter confidence. these audits stand in stark contrast to the type of sham audits that was called for this year by the republican state legislature in arizona, and is being considered by the republican state legislature in pennsylvania. secretary hobbs and commissioner schmidt, can you discard -- can you describe how these sham audits differ technically from the professional, standard driven audits required of main jurisdictions, and how they might impact voter confidence? >> senator, i do not know that there is time left in the day.
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in arizona, the results where candidates certified, litigated and legitimately audit to according to law. what we saw was absolutely not a real audit. there was no transparency, lots of insecurity, every other professional audit standard you would see in place was not there. overseen by people with an entirely partisan agenda. >> inc. you. mr. schmidt? >> as senior auditor at gal, i believe strongly in the importance of audits when they are legitimate and real, and carried out by qualified people who know something about auditing and something about elections. that is not what we have seen today. in pennsylvania, every county in the commonwealth conducts an
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audit after each election. in most counties, including ours, we conduct a secondary audit that is more comprehensive. the nexus between your question, the audits -- the so-called audits and the threat issue are in my experience and many others, the threats died down after election day, after the new president was sworn in. now that the legislature is talking about instituting some bogus audit in the commonwealth of pennsylvania, they returned. this level of activity, it spikes and decreases whenever there is this comprehensive misinformation and disinformation effort, both around election time and now around audits as well. >> thank you both. from my understanding, arizona, who otherwise would be unauthorized access to the actual voting systems in
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themselves -- secretary hobbs, we do not have enough time in the day. thank you. >> inc. you, senator padilla. next up -- thank you, madam chair. appreciate your presence here and your answers. secretary hobbs, this question is for you. one of the main destruction of -- destructive effects of the lies and conspiracy theories fabricated by the former president and his attorneys, to discredit the outcome of the 2020 election was the dramatic increase in threats of violence, attempts to intimidate election officials. at all levels. there was a famous press conference held by a man named gabriel sterling, the chief operations officer of the secretary of state in georgia, a republican and republican appointee, in which he urged the then sitting in defeated
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outgoing president to cease the lies, because people's lives were at lish -- at risk. georgia has bent the center of this. election officials, all the way to good samaritan nonpartisan volunteers at polling places, subject to abuse, harassment and threats, we saw threats against polling places. i have offered legislation to strengthen federal law protecting election officials. i would like you to comment based on your experience as the secretary of state, how in addition to the fear and harm done by threats of violence themselves, how this impacts election administrative -- restriction and is a -- an assault on voting rights. >> i think what has been much more ongoing and constant than
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the threats themselves are the level of harassment that is coming into election offices, to our office for sure. just the election division, but other divisions of our office. keeping people from doing their jobs. election offices across the state, when there is something being seen to die down and then heightened awareness again, because there is a sham audit proposed, rings level up again. for my office, it has been nearly constant. it has been -- people they go to their jobs as public servants every day are exposed to this. it is wearing them down. it is not just the threats, it is the constant harassment, certainly some level of federal protection against the threats would be helpful. but there is just -- i cannot describe how constant it is and
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how draining it is on people having to answer those emails or check that social media, it is taking away from their ability to do their job. >> thank you madam secretary. is your henderson, one of the most concerning aspects has to be 202, the election law enacted in georgia, is that it empowers partisan officials at the state level to take over, reconstitute and perform the functions of local election at the county level. this could inspire these partisan state officials to make decisions about polling places, about polling place locations, which cannot be changed at the last moment. are those processes that should be free of partisan interference, and in local control? can you please comment on how
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such laws threaten the impartial and fair administration of election? >> i should know before i ought -- answer that georgia is also the state that has chosen to limit voter's access to water and food while the are standing in incredibly long lines, that result from having closed polling places that would otherwise have been used during an election. we note that housing discrimination is still exists and states around the country. often, polling places are set up in a way that particularly caters to a community of interest. often, polling places there closed but otherwise serve black communities, brown communities. it is a huge problem. the fact that you and senator warnock have introduced legislation that would seek to limit the ability of state boards of election to interfere at the local level to remove
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individuals who would otherwise serve in a nonpartisan way for years, but would now inject a level of partisanship in their responsibilities is something that for us, is a huge problem. that is why we support the inclusion of the effort to protect against election subversion in the freedom to vote act. this does have a real impact on individual's willingness to trust the election, to feel their votes will be protected, and to turn out in future elections, which is the purpose of many of these subversive laws. it is a huge problem. we know some of these issues existed because of the 2020 election, with the big lie and the emergence of misinformation and disinformation. that has corrupted the integrity of elections and the way some of you that. as has been noted at the outset, and questions posed to the
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panel, truth is an antidote to much of this. if we were able to ensure that previously elected officials would speak truthfully about the outcome of the election, that would help us protect against this kind of coercive effect. in the absence of that, we need new federal protections that ensure elections will be administered fairly, in a nonpartisan way, that respects and protects the interest of the voters. >> thank you. i am up over time, i recognize that, with particular concern, -- as we saw the most recent election, the president was playing pressure on the governor of georgia, the secretary of state of georgia and the u.s. attorney for the northern district of georgia to overturn the election results. inc. you for your testimony. i would know as well i've introduced the voters --
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prohibit the states from banning hydration to voters standing in line to vote. by nonpartisan volunteers. i would think sent -- chairwoman will bashar in include not in the latest draft. >> secretary hobbs, you mentioned this in a recent answer, could you give a little more detail about harassment directed at your office. how it has impacted public servants who are not responsible for elections, like those who assist with registering businesses or notarizing documents? >> the business services division, library division and address confidentiality program have calls to their lines or emails sent to them with
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harassing and threatening language. as i mentioned, this is been near constant in arizona since the election, almost a year ago. there was a staff member in business services, she took a call, it was threatening in nature. this is not her job. she is not trained in prior assessment. she kept the scholar on the phone to get as much information as possible to be able to report this to law enforcement and continue to allow this abusive behavior, she was afraid if she didn't, that is when she was going to get hurt. this was traumatic for her. it impacted her work for the rest of the day. also, keeping her from doing her normal job. this is a division where the most common tasks, in terms of what the division does, take four to six weeks and turnaround time, this is not helping at all. it is bad for our constituents. we've also delayed the opening
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of -- until we could arrange security, because of what happened here on january 6. i was not willing to put staff in harm's way, when people who were still upset about the election and still directing their anger towards my office could feel like that as well. >> thank you. mr. masterson, we know misinformation on social media platforms, like facebook is widespread and there has been bipartisan pushback on this, whether it is the work that today we had a second hearing on this in the congress committee with senator blumenthal and senator blackburn. other platforms, specifically snap and youtube, as well as tiktok. but we now know that a new trove
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of documents recently came out the facebook deliberately turned off election misinformation safeguards. after the election, they were worried the safeguards were stalling the growth of the platform. can you briefly explain the severity of the problem of election misinformation spread through social media, and you agree that this has been part of the problem with threats? >> thank you, madam chair. absolutely, this is one of the largest challenges, following the 2020 election, dander -- sanford internet observatory -- they looked at this challenge and made a number of recommendations. the report highlighted the fact that individual platforms suffered from the challenge for moderation of content around election information and promotion of correct or factual information, highlighting the voices of state and local election officials, also the
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crop -- cross-platform challenges, even if action was taken by one platform, it would drop in a youtube video or posted on instagram somewhere. there are a number of steps he can be taken, we recommend transparency around the data, the interactions with this type of content, that the platforms can offer a lot more insight to researchers, to congress, and nonprofits. the second is consistent enforcement. having your policies up on your platforms and consistently forcing the rules around that in a transparent weight that folks can understand. finally, as we prepare for 2022, that continued need to highlight the voices of state local election officials. search engines, google, could ensure that when someone searches for information on election information, the first thing to come up is the secretary of state or local election information as a poster
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trove of disinformation. i know many of the platforms and worked with many of them throughout 2020 to prepare. there were a lot of steps taken. there is more that can be done. to combat what is undoubtedly coming in 2022 and 2024. >> election it misinformation has been coming out more more. we've seen today the information that facebook change their algorithms in 2017, i believe, so the anger and and kind of emoji was worth five times more on the spread of information than a like. you put some content out, secretary of state, whatever about elections, we put some comment about anything that is factual, you might get alike. people agree with you. maybe i put one out that senator blunt and i did a bill together,
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we did this, we did that. you put something out and makes people angry, they are going to spread five times more. as a fact, if you can get people to do that anger thing, the anger emoji, you are in for five times more the spread. i want all of you to think about that in terms of, you may have disagreements about what misinformation is and isn't, but that polarization on both sides, that principle when you have this dominant form that is doing that, that can change dynamics and how people relate to each other, which feeds into a lot of what we are seeing. i don't know, mr. henderson if you wanted to comment on that. >> madam chair, i could not agree more with your observation. this disinformation, misinformation campaign has undercut public willingness and acceptance of the election
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results, as we know them to be. that is a huge problem. i also want to point out, and some minority communities, many of the difficulties we are talking about today would be a tax on election administers are built on top of efforts that have already taken place in their states because of the elimination of the preclearance provisions of the voting rights act of 1965, based on the supreme court's decision in shelby county versus holder. just two examples of that point. in north carolina, immediately after the shelby county decision was handed down, a monster ad hoc voter bill was enacted into law that the fourth circuit court of appeals, in overturning it announced it was carried out with almost surgical precision to impact black voters. we see the same thing in places like texas. my colleagues at the mexican american legal defense of education fund for a lawsuit
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involving the city of pasadena, texas that immediately after the shelby county decision, decided to completely relink its election procedures for local government. it moved from a city with eight local seats in the city election to a group of six, with two at-large seats with the intent of disenfranchising latino voters. those kinds of problems abound in states like alabama and florida. that is a huge problem. >> thank you for outlining that. senator king, i'd guy who tries to minimize anger on his social media posts, in favor of constructive comments, i turn it over to senator king and then -- >> thank you, madam chair.
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i hope i can be constructive. one of the authors of the right to vote act we worked on over the summer, it is entirely within the authority of congress , article one section four of the constitution does in fact begin by saying legislatures shouting back -- enact voting registrations. it goes on to say congress may by law alter or amend such regulations. let us get rid of this idea that there is no role for congress for the federal government in election law. the 15th amendment, going into the voting rights act of 1965 of 1965, are examples of that. i think that is important. what we are trying to do, and working on this bill is not take over state election laws. i'm a former governor. i'm a big lever in states rights. we are trying to set a floor for protecting the right to vote in
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the integrity of the voting system. to be sure that there are not efforts in particular states to disenfranchise citizens. nobody wants to take over and run the election system of any of our states. but we think -- very similar to what we do the environment, we have basic national standards on the environment, then states set their own standards within that context. the second thing is, i think that testimony of secretary adams today may be very important. what he said was that he engineered, working with the democratic governor in kentucky, a bipartisan election bill that reflected the views of both parties. it passed by the legislature by a huge majority. that is what we ought to do here. i urge my republican parties --
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my republican colleagues. we put a proposal out there. if they want to come forward with elections of their own, with -- involving election six -- integrity they think are important, we have heard nothing but silence is our bill was put out into the public realm in early september. i want to make it clear, here and now on the record, that i for one would be willing and able to enter into constructive discussions with my republican colleagues on what they would like in the bill. i'm tired of hearing it referred to as a democrat only bill. it is a democrat only proposal. now is the time for negotiations, for republicans to come forward and say here is the way we think we should do it. i think i'm speaking for my
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colleagues in the democratic caucus, i think this is a time when we ought to come together as to parties and work on a bipartisan proposal to deal with the issue of voter suppression, and if there are questions of voter integrity that need to be dealt with, that ought to be part of this package, let us bring them forward, have those discussions. you can't clap with one hand. we need both sides to come to the table. i think the example of what happened in kentucky is a terrific example for us to follow. i come up for one, and ready to follow the example. i dressed my comments to chairman blunt or his republican colleagues, if there issues you are concerned about or provisions of the bill that we've come forward with that you're concerned about, bring them forward to us and let us try to work something out.
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the american people, it would be a great thing for the american people to seat congress working in a bipartisan way to deal with elections, to de-escalate the conflict, to some extent and guest to a place where we are able to come to some reasonable consensus that will protect access but also the integrity. madam chair i hope you will second me, that you would also be willing and anxious to enter into these discussions, should our colleagues want to make their own proposals. thank you, madam chair. >> we are always open to that. it has been very difficult. we work hard on the bill, we are proud that senator manchin has his name on it. in this very room, we made a number of changes to the bill to make it easier for rural areas to comply.
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through the months, made several other changes. the whole idea is to simply guarantee people the right to vote in a way that will limit some of the horrible aftermath that we saw in this last election. in terms of suits that should not have been brought in people now questioning the very democracy on which the ground we stand on is founded. that is the idea. we think we should make it easier to vote. in the past, this is been bipartisan, as senator king pointed out, including as mr. henderson notes, the voting rights act of 1965 of years back. that was a bipartisan endeavor. disappointing, but that does not mean we are going to back down from trying to get some kind of agreement, or most important late getting something passed. with that, i turn it over to
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you, senator merkley. >> thank you, madam chair. mr. henderson, y asked about folks spraying mistrust, you noted it was to intimidate voters and decrease turnout. from your previous comments, assuming you would also agree the goal is to justify election laws that under a facade of election security, are actually about locking targeted groups from voting, is that a fair way for me to put it? absolute -- >> absolutely i agree with that completely. >> i was looking at how historians looked at in a year. where the only thing that was blocked by extended debate in the filibuster laws to protect the voting rights and political power of black americans, for 80 years. the point historians make, it reached a point where they could
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not talk about stock and political power for black americans. they had to talk about freedom of speech on the floor of the senate. extended debate. first amendment was a cover story for blocking political power for black americans. is the argument or discussion of election fraud, a cover story today for blocking the political power of black americans and other citizens from minority communities? >> i think your analogy is on point. i think the argument we are now dealing with a climate of fraud and insecurity about our elections, which is based on the big lie, on information that has been refuted time and again in a bipartisan way, not just by democrats, abide the previous president's department of homeland security, saying it is the most secure election.
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that kind of information is ignored in favor of the disinformation and misinformation, much of it found on facebook and other social platforms. of course reinforced by statements of the previous president, that somehow he lost the election through fraud. that is used to justify harsh, new alleged -- legislation that has the effect of blocking black, brown, native voters, asian-american voters from participating, even though those are the voters were we see the largest level of demographic growth in communities that would provide voters at the polls. >> thank you. secretary hobbs, our former president seemed to really hate vote by mail. you told me you have vote by mail in your state and it is fraud free. why do you think former
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president trump hated vote by mail so much? >> i'm under oath, i do not know that i can speculate on the former president's thought process. the fact is, it makes it easier for people to exercise their right to vote. we saw one people showed up in historic numbers in an election that had multiple challenges was that, they made our voices heard. it did not go his way. it seemed like, from my perspective, what he was trying to do was so doubt in the process -- sow doubt in the process. >> i'm barda put forward a theory and ask if you think it holds water. my theory is this, that it is very easy to manipulate the vote on election day.
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i mean you decrease the precincts and communities you do not want to turn out. you decrease the number of election officials at those polling places so there is longer wait times. you can put out -- others put out misinformation's about the locations of polling places, election officials can change the polling laces from two years earlier, -- polling places from two years earlier. information put out at times that you missed the vote, there are ways to decrease turnout in targeted areas on election day, but by mail is an antidote to all of that. if we want to talk about fraud, shouldn't we talk about the fraud conducted on election day? we don't, really. i want to give you an example.
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georgia public broadcasting said that after 7 p.m. -- 7:00 p.m. in 90% nonwhite polling places, the wait time was 51 minutes. in white polling places, the wait time was six minutes. quite possibly, a deliberate strategy, certainly possible it was deliberate. the analysis went on to note that there is rules in georgia to make the polling places fair in terms of one polling place with a cap of 2000 voters, but it is not enforced. i saw another analysis that states have protections that are not enforced. my point here is that when i think about the one out of 1.6 million votes cap -- casting organ that have found the election fraud, aren't we facing
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a lot of election day fraud, or strategies to make it hard for some people to vote in their community as opposed to other communities? is that a fair thing in your observation, across the country? >> i'm not clear if you're characterizing limiting access to voting on election day, is that what you're characterizing? yes, i would agree that the last access we provide to voters, whether it is limiting voting to one day, or otherwise limiting it, the less people are going to show up to vote, the harder it is going to be to do that. >> when our committee went down to georgia, senator klobuchar and i listened to stories people waited five hours, bring to one test my, now it is against the lodge peasant water. if you have to go the bathroom, you lose your place in line. that is the type of fraud i'm talking about, that his a huge
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impact. present henderson, in your previous work with the aclu, and your prior work with the leadership conference, has there been a systematic study of election day fraud, in terms of stealing the right to vote through manipulation of polling places and information? >> certainly, the organizations i have been affiliated with have studied election day fraud in that context. i do not know whether they have prepared a specific report. the leadership conference is not. i think your point, which is that there is a history of misinformation on election day, that is intended to disenfranchise minority voters from turning out at the polls, for example the note that election day is actually the following thursday as opposed to the tuesday on which an election
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is held or information which says the polling place that you previously used has been closed, but you were not notified. to the extent that has occurred, that nation predates these attacks on election officials. as pernicious as the attack on election officials is, it does not operate in isolation. these other provisions you have talked about, the kind of election day fraud that is directed at particular groups of voters, with the expectation that they will not cast ballots on that day, has existed for some time. which is why i referred to many of these changes is being done in the spirit of jim crow laws that existed prior to the adoption of the voting rights act of 1965. i will close with the notion -- >> i will close with the notion that i would love the aclu to stay election day fraud, i think it is very relevant and to white
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vote by mail and early voting are so important. they take away the ability to conduct such fraud. i think far more americans are affected by those long lines or intimidation at a polling place or misinformation about where a polling place is or a place with no product -- parking. there are many election day strategies. i want to thank you all to our -- for your service to our system in the election system. it is essential, that for a democratic republic to function while, the foundation has to function well, the foundation is integrity in elections and trust in that integrity. we have a lot of work to do. i think you for being engaged in network. >> thank you, i want to thank ranking member want, he had to go to another meeting.
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i want to thank all the witnesses, and members of the committee for this informative hearing. i also want to thank you for your courage, those of you who have received threats. was likely everyone, i believe have received a threat. as we all know on this side of the dais, i want to thank you for being willing to come forward. commissioner schmidt, your test my about receiving a message saying your three kids will be ably shot, i will not forget that testimony as we look to what we need to do to fix this situation. the name of your seven-year-old son, your 11 and 14-year-old daughters, brings home how serious he sets can be. these threats are inexcusable. if we do not act, we cannot
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expect public servants to continue to perform the essential task of administering our free and fair elections. as he pointed out, it is not just in urban areas, it is in suburban areas, in rural areas, where he may have less access to law enforcement assistance. as mr. masterson said, election workers are the guardians of our democracy. it is clear, as secretary hobbs and others have noted that there is a need for action. we need to protect those on the frontlines of our democracy. i think that while a lot of work is done on the state basis, i'm a big believer in that, i also think is a federal government we need to stand up, as senator king pointed out, and the drafters of our constitution anticipated that the congress would have a role in making or
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altering laws of elections. at the very least, right now what we are talking about is that it should be a federal crime to intimidate and threaten or coerce those who administer our elections in a federal election. we need to protect against interference, we need to protect local officials from arbitrary and unfounded removal. we need to protect against the mishandling of federal election records, which puts both the personal information of voters and the security of voting systems at risk. after all, the election for president is a federal election. those that work in this building are in the federal system. we need to empower voters to challenge efforts and states to undermine -- efforts in states to undermine election results
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and trying the right to have their votes counted. these provisions are included in the freedom to vote act. as senator king extended the olive branch, i will invite my republican colleagues to work with us on these commonsense solutions. i want to thank you all, coming from different parts of the country, different political views, different backgrounds, united to upholding our democracy and protecting our election officials. of course your own families, but also those that work for you and your offices, as well as those that work across your state. thank you very much. our election officials, regardless of their party were truly the heroes in this last election. we thank you for your work. the hearing is adjourned, we will keep the record open for one week. enqueue. -- thank you.
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