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2024 will be the first presidential election for one in five local election officials, poll finds

<i>George Frey/Getty Images/File</i><br/>An election worker opens envelopes and removes ballots so they can be counted at the election office on October 26
Getty Images
George Frey/Getty Images/File
An election worker opens envelopes and removes ballots so they can be counted at the election office on October 26

By Shania Shelton, CNN

More than one in five local election officials will be working their first presidential election in 2024, according to a new poll out Tuesday — a sign of the continued strain on election workers who faced waves of threat and harassment after the 2020 election.

The rate of turnover among local election officials equals about one to two officials leaving their job every day since the 2020 election, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s Law School.

“There’s a lot of institutional knowledge that is lost,” said Lawrence Norden, senior director of the Elections & Government program at the Brennan Center.

Of the officials included in the poll, 30% said they have been abused, harassed, or threatened because of their job, while 73% said the federal government should be doing more to support them.

Norden said the awareness of resources available for protecting workers and voters, especially federal resources for physical and cyber security, is lower among the newer officials. He recommended a coordinated campaign at the federal level to ensure election officials are aware of federal resources and funding available to them, as well as a bigger investment of money and resources in all levels of government so officials are able to protect workers, voters and election infrastructure.

“It’s extremely important to be doing outreach to those officials at the federal and state level to make them aware of resources that are available to them,” he said.

More than half of officials — 56% — said they are worried about political leaders engaging in efforts to interfere with how fellow election officials do their jobs in future elections.

“I am worried about the problem of lies that are told about election work and election officials,” Norden said. “And the more that we can do to strengthen them and to ensure they have the ability to not only do their jobs well but to push back against those lies is going to be really critical.”

Election workers have faced a barrage of threats and harassment since the 2020 presidential election — as former President Donald Trump and his allies spread the falsehood that widespread election fraud contributed to his defeat. Since 2020, officials have faced new penalties and curbs on their authority under laws advanced by Republican-controlled state legislatures.

Ahead of the 2022 election, election officials around the country said they had been overwhelmed with frivolous public records requests along with widespread demands for recounts of primary elections.

Federal officials were offering de-escalation training to local and state officials to help avert violence at the polls, while election officials were deploying a bevy of tactics to secure the elections — from installing cameras and lighting at drop boxes to adding GPS and other tracking devices to ballot bags to monitor their movement on Election Day.

In a report last year, the Brennan Center found about one in five local election officials said they were likely to leave their jobs before the 2024 presidential election, with a third of that group citing false political attacks on the election system as the top reason. More than half of the election workers who responded — 54% — said they were concerned about the safety of their colleagues in future elections.

The survey of local election officials took place between March 2 and April 3 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.22 percentage points, according to the Brennan Center. The center used a list of 10,974 county and parish election officials, which it purchased from the nonpartisan U.S. Vote Foundation. Everyone on the list was contacted via email to participate in the survey, and, in all, 852 local election officials of all political affiliations completed the survey, Brennan officials said.

The survey was conducted by the Benenson Strategy Group, which has represented prominent Democratic politicians.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Fredreka Schouten contributed to this edition.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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