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tv   State Local Officials Testify on Threats Against Election Workers  CSPAN  November 2, 2021 6:47am-8:58am 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.
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i don't think this will be the last time that we are talking about it. 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.
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i think him for appearing as well. 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.
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they did not stop after the 2020 election or after the violent insurrection on january 6. 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
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veteran received calls telling her she was going to die. in georgia, poll workers in 10 counties received from threats 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.
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in georgia, the restrictive voting law enacted in march gives unchecked power to the state election board to remove 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
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the voting rights working group are conveyed by leader shooter -- rumor. that included senators padilla 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
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interfering with county ballots, canvassing and certifying collections as well as strengthening protections for 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
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joining us today. i spent 20 years as a local election official. 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.
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i am grateful to them for doing that. our role in congress is to support states and their administration elections and 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
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the election community together. we have heard from local election officials that they have been subject to increasing 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
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where appropriate. we have a chance to lower the temperature of the rhetoric's surrounding elections. today, the hearing provides an 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,
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access to more and better information will ensure elections continue to run safely and smoothly. 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've mentioned, this is a very important issue that deserves serious attention and i thank my colleagues who are participatingld today and our witnesses or being here todaywi and i look forward to a productive discussion. >> very good. thank you, senator blunt and i also welcome senator murphy and sunderit had spent as well as senator king who i see on the video screen. our first witness today is arizona secretary of state katie
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hobbs, secretary hobbs has served as arizona's 21st secretary of state since 2019. she previously served in the arizona state senate including as nonminority leader and the arizona-- 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 and worked for one of the largest domestic abuse centers in the country. secretary hobbs earned a bachelors degree in social work and masters degree from arizona state university. our second witness is philadelphia city commissioner al schmidt, commissioner schmidt is serving his third term and has served on the commission since 2011 as a city commissioner he is one of three members and the only republican on the city's bipartisan board
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of elections. commissioner schmidter began his career as a policy analyst for the presidential commission on holocaust assets and works on as a senior analyst as a government accountability office and earned a baa from allegheny college and phd in history from brandeis university. [inaudible conversations] >> thank you. senator blunt well-- i wanted to make sure we didn't miss you. our third witness is wade henderson. mr. henderson is currently serving as the interim president and ceo of the leadership conference on the civil and human rights. mr. henderson previously served as president of the leadership conference from 1996 until 2016 and has held leadership roles with the naacp and american civil liberties union.
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he is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including the uber humphrey award for civil and human rights something near and dear to my heart, and the u.s. state department eleanor roosevelt writes a word. mr. henderson earned his bachelors degree from harvard. university and is a law degree from rutgers. >> glad to have secretary of state adams join us from kentucky. he's been the secretary of state since 2020 and is here virtually with us0. today, but glad he can be part of this hearing. previously served on the state board of election in 2016 and served in that position i believe as elected secretary of state..
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2007 secretary adams began his private practice in election law, first as generalel counselo the republican governors association. previously he held positions with senator mccall, kentucky governor ernie fletcher and department of justice and bush administration and earned his bachelors from the university of louisville, law degree from harvard law school. the second witness invited by us today is currently a nonresident fellow with the stanford internet observatory. in 2018 through 2020 he served as a senior cybersecurity advisor at the cybersecurity and infrastructure security agency. before that, in 2014-2018 mr. masters served on the election assistance commission including a period as its chairman. i am sure many of my colleagues will remember him from appearances before our community in both of those jobs. early in his b career
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mr. masterson worked for the ohio secretary of states office where he oversaw the voting system, certification and efforts and as a bachelors degree from miami university and lottie grew from university dayton's school of law andho we are back-- glad to have both of those witnesses as well as the other three today. >> very good. the witnesses if they could please stand and raise their right hand. do you swear that the testimony you give before the committee shall be the truth, and the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help you god quacks-- thank you you can be preceded and we will proceed to your testimony we will recognize each of you for a five-minute statement and we will begin with secretary hobbs. >> thank you. thank you for the invitation to be here today. next week will mark one year
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since the 2020 general election. unfortunately in arizona and other states some choose to believe that the 202020 election has still not been-- [inaudible] to be clear president joe biden one arizona in a free and fair election, which was conducted according to the letter of the law. in arizona, there were at least nine postelection legal challenges and although every challenge failed as the lawsuits mounted so did the threats against me and other election officials. two weeks after the election armed protesters gathered outside my home and enchanted: 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 and 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.
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these threats have continued against me and others, but what concerns me more is the near constant harassment faced by the public servants who administer election. nearly every day they are on the receiving end of abusive phone calls and e-mails. inne arizona, orange jumpsuits were mailed to county supervisors. last november, asrv election tabulated ballots inside the tabulation center, armed protesters were a frequent presence outside. we already see turnover among election staff and i fear that many more will reach a breaking point and decide that this line of public service is no longer worth it. in truth, arizona has one of the best run election assistance in the country with robust processes to ensure the integrity of the election including observer access for tabulation, pre-and post election logic and accuracy
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testing of machines as well as postelection hand count audit. arizona law also requires each county board of supervisors to canvass the election and to certify the results to my office after these processes took place in november, i sat alongside governor, attorney general bernadette and the chief justice to certify arizona's 2020 election. despite the bipartisan certification of the results, legislature decided to perform a partisan ballot review this exercise before-- performed by the state legislature was not an audit. lethe partisan ballot review in arizona can best be described as aa sham. the review was plagued by errors , errors that are unacceptable to actual election professionals or to the arizona hired a firm cyber ninjas with no needful election experience or knowledge and they made up the rules as they went along.
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millions in tax dollars were wasted defunding the audit and replacing voting machines rendered unusable by cyber ninjas. the same legislature billed as the most transparent audit in american history now potentially face contempt of court for failing to produce audit documents this entire exercise was an effort to sow doubt in the 2020 election results and is used to justify voting restrictions. from the outside of the bout review, i said arizona would become the blueprint for those looking to undermine elections. as other states now consider similar politically motivated reviews, i'm too familiar with the problems such reviews create. audits must be based on established rules and procedures they must protect voter data any must be free of partisan influence. the ballot review in arizona failed that each of these things
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and it should not be replicated elsewhere. many have remarked that the aftermath of the 2020 election was a reminder of just how fragile american democracy truly is, but at every turn americans have stepped up to protect it election workers 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 dozens of partisan lawsuits have police officers who set their ground against insurrectionist. at every turn the people who believe in american democracy have stepped up and protected it one person who spoke out against the big lie in efforts to undermine our democracy was grant woods, former republican attorney general from arizona and aide to senator john mccain. he passed away suddenly this weekend and i would be remiss if opportunity tohe
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acknowledge him in the way he stepped up to defend elections in arizona and across the country. now it's your turn. continued inaction in the face of these threats to undermine our democracy will have long-term consequences for the future of ourur country. i support the freedom to vote act and i appreciate the committee for holding the steering. thank you. t >> thank you very much, secretary of state hobbs. i did not know that about grant woods. i've met him before appeared sorry for your loss and thank you for mentioning that. next up we have commissioner schmidt. and honorable-- [inaudible] [inaudible] al schmidt. in philadelphia that commissioners oversee all election operations in the city from voter registration to election certification. i was first elected to this
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position in 2011, reelected in 2015, reelected in 2019 and have overseen more than two dozen elections in my nearly 10 years of service. i am a republican and i believe counting votes in ourve democray is a sacred responsibility. for doing my job, counting votes, i would like to quickly share with you some of the messages assigned to me and my family.he tell the truth or your three kids will be fatally shot up your include is our address, including my children's names, included a picture of our home. cots can help you. heads on spikes, treasonous schmitz. you betrayed your country. you lied. you are a traitor. perhaps cuts and bullets will soon arrive at, provides my address, names my children, rhino stole election, we still
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live is the. there are additional threats my family asked me not to share because they are so graphic and disturbing. my three little kids, my youngest is a seven years old. no matter what our party affiliation, this is notar okay. let's bet clear, this is domesc terrorism. thee whole point is to terroriz, to intimidate and coerce and to prevent our democracy from functioning as it should. in my case, this happened in the city where our democracy first y began. it is not just a threats. these aren't empty promises. to manhood drove up from virginia were arrested outside the pennsylvania convention center where our election operations were consolidated in the 2020 election to quote straighten things out and to intercept an imaginary truckload of counterfeit ballots headed to the convention center. they were arrested with guns, ammunition and lock pick tools
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and by the way those two men were also arrested just across the street here on january 6 due to their activity on that day. a day like many others were lied to and deceived and deranged by those lies. for what cracks do discredit an election wasn't even close. unfortunately my experience isn't unique. my colleagues and staff received threats. democratic and republican election officials across the country have been subjected to firework--eats or worse. is a recent report nearly one in five election officials nellis threats to their lives as i concern. threats rise in frequency and intensity each time election officials and bad-faith political actors spread disinformation about the 2020 election care this creates vicious cycle in which elected
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officials lie to their constituents. constituents believe the lies and demanded the same election will-- officials do something to fix a problem that never occurred and then officials use those demands as an excuse and most often doing something meano making voting acceptable and the -- feels more violent threat to election officials. this is a nationwide problem that demands a national response.tith chairwoman, ranking member blunt , 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, but for the sake of our republic, i hope you can work together to protect election administrators and our democratic institutions. >> thank you so much and i am so sorry this happened it to you
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and your family and i am sorry to you secretary hobbs. unbelievably disturbing testimony. next up we have secretary adams from kentucky. i think you are with us remotely thank you. >> chairwoman, thank you chairwoman, ranking member blunt, members of the committee, good afternoon. i am kentucky secretary of state and chief election-- i was elected in 2019, but i got my start in election policy 22 years ago and it's an honor to be back here albeit virtually. today we discussed an unpleasant topic that the news is not all bad, in kentucky voting has never been as assessable or a secure or is it has been the 21 months. last year three months after being sworn in i asked our legislature to grant me-- to
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ensure public safety in the pandemic without sacrificing voter access or ballot integrity. we madell absent-- absentee balt in more available the result was the primary election in a general election that set records for turnout yet no spike in coping 18 cases from the in person voting. this approach proved so successful and popular that our republican-controlled legislature voted nearly unanimously to make the most of these temporary changes permanent. earlyen voting, absentee ballot requests portal and more. all of this good news ironically lends itself to a higher level ofhe frustration by me, by our other elected officials, buyer legislators, about the
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unwillingness on both sides of the aisle to accept the reality that our election process is accessible and fair. in our current culture part of this is organic, reflects a refusal believe anything the government says. this is not unique to elections as we have seen the lagging vaccination rates, but is rather driven by actors who receive some benefit. addressing there should not be a partisan issue because misinformation is limited to-- not limited to one in kentucky election officials were subject to misinformation campaign that resulted in numerous thoughts about violence and other verball abuse. so-called all eyes on kentucky effort directed against us did not come from conservatives concerned about voter frauds, it came from progressives due to believing we were engaged in voter suppression. this misinformation effort was given oxygen in the democratic
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party. remain grateful to our democratic government for defending our state and calling out these lies i i am not here o take political shots, to engage or diminish the experiences of alsecretary hobbs or other election officials. to the contrary. i'm here to show the problem is even wider. of the first step in ensuring the safety of our election officials is to do no harm yourselves. please keep your rhetoric factual. misinformation is no serious threat-- it is upstream of the summary other problems west fac. safety of election officials, willingness of election officials including volunteers to serve, voter turnout, polarization and ultimately maaccepted legitimacy. election officials-- [inaudible] public officials, those of you serving our nation in the u.s.
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capital don't need me too inform me of this. in kentucky, our democratic governor has received threats from someone far right. and republican attorney general has received threats from some on the far left and even public health officials have received threatss. my fear is that school board members will be next if they aren't already. this shows the problem is worse than you might think yet also less cyclical to a simple solution in the form of a federal law. at its best, congress plays a role in election administration by providing funding, reliable-- [inaudible] alongside state and local election partners. these efforts have been bipartisan and for that reason accepted across the political spectrum. i have no wish that you pass any particular election laws moving forward, but if you do i hope you do so in a non- audiological bipartisan fashion rather than furthering the polarization that plagues our politics.
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thank you. >> thank you very much. next up, mr. wade henderson appeared go ahead. thank you. >> good afternoon, chairwoman, ranking member blunt and members of the committee. d thank you for the opportunityo testify today. i am grateful for your work to make sure every voter can safely andma freely cast a ballot that counts. since the u.s. supreme court decision in shelby county versus hold for that at the heart of the voting rights act we have seen a tidal wave of measures to restrict the boats. just the 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
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on election officials and the election process itself. make no mistake, this is race discrimination changing form and adapting to circumstances of today. it is no less egregious and no less careless where democracy. today i i want to talk about how these threats to election administration are ultimately about denyingio people the freem to vote. first, let's look at the astonishingok rise in threats against election workers and their families. election workers and administrators are absolutely essential to a successful democracy. no electionn official should lie in fear. yet, as you have heard today arizona secretary of state, katie hobbs, commissioner schmidt and others have received death threats in connection with their jobs. a recent study by the brennan center which has been cited brennan center for justice found one in three election workers
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feel unsafe and one in five listed threats to their lives as a job-related concern for 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 willeg lead to low election staff with a ripple effect acrosscr our ever-- [inaudible] longer wait times, closure of polling places, a rise in voter intimidation and harassment at the polls and widespread loss of confidence in election's. lawmakers must take immediate steps to keep the wheels of democracy turningwh safely for
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voters and election workers alike. second, we must focus on the latest efforts to sabotage elections through sham election reviews. whatever our color, background or zip code, we believe that voters take our leaders. our leaders do not pick their voters, but in the wake of the 2020 election some officials began pushing anti- voter reviews 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 sham or if you and arizona's largest and most diverse county that ultimately revealed account closely matching the official results. this arizona review has now formed the basis for others in
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pennsylvania, wisconsin and florida. wisecracks because the site pervasive barriers to the ballot, black, brown and native that voters in these estates are turning out in the polls in historic numbers. election review scams are blatant attempts to intimidate these voters and to 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 of racial discrimination in voting and as the reports note since the 2020 election statess including florida, arizona, georgia and the texas adopted sweeping anti- voter laws that a make it harder to vote by mail, limit or prohibit ballot drop boxes and force voters to navigate burdensome redtape to cast a
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vote that counts. 's senators, went to be clear. these years of overt and covert anti- voter tactics are taking their toll on voters of color. communities trying to engage politically are forced to navigate tremendous barriers to the polls, these unconscionable tactics are causing great fear and disillusionment about even participating at all and perhaps most destructive, these tactics push americans to lose hope democracy ended to lose-- [inaudible] time and again voters have shown up for democracy. now i am-- and for this body to show up for voters before it's too late to members of the senate must swiftly pass the freedom to vote act and the voting rights advancement act and said a basic federal foundation for voting access. i look forward to working with all of you to enact reasonable productions to build a democracy
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that works for all. thank you. >> thank you very much. next up, mr. masterson. thank you. >> thank you, chairwoman klobuchar, i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to discuss the ongoing pervasive threats targeting election officials, workers and private sector employees who support elections. the 2020 electionup placed election officials at the center of national attention in a way not seen in decades iff ever. record turnout in a smooth election day validated election officials work. the reward for this professionalism and bravery cracks months of threats against their lives and lives of their family members, the perpetrators of these threats are fueled by online conspiracies that cast election officials as malicious actors meddling in election results, innocuous glitches have been stitched together to fit broad narratives as alternative
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action-- explanation poor results and recently myself in a team of students at stanford published an oral history of the 2020 election where we interviewed folks like commissioner schmidt and secretary hobbs andom election officials from across the country in the political spectrum. of virtually all of those who we interviewed shares stories of calls, e-mails, social media post threatening them, their staff and their families. secretary of nevada, a republican, shared with us that she and her family and staff were targeted with death threats regularly and even had grounds over her house. tina barton, a local republican election official from rochester hills 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 quote during and after the 2020 presidential election, the integrity of our democracy has been challenged by
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misinformation, misinformation and mall information that sows discord and undermines trust in the electoral process and many of us have been threatened by our 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 continuingng to receive threats for doing their jobs were leaving the profession. the field is already losing officials at an alarming place so how do we respond to these threats collects-- quacks-- quacks first, at the state, local and federal level regular and consistent investment in our elections are needed and the shared funding structure should be unfermented in which all levels of government pay for their portion of eachrt electio. second, we must ensure the physical security of election officials offices and staff across the country. the recent creation of the election threat task force at the departmentas of justice is o
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encouraging step, but more must be done. publication and use of threat data from the d.o.j. election task force should provide necessary data after each election regarding the scope and scale of threats against election officials and workers and the responses to those threats. increased information sharing regarding those threats in order to ensuree comprehensive data is selected, analyzed and shared local state law enforcement should be required to share activities directeden against election officials and workers with federal law enforcement in their state and in return federal law enforcement should report to state local officials regarding the activity in the jurisdiction with full transparency regarding any actions taken including if investigations have been initiated. following the 2020 election there have been few consequences for those who have threatened election officials. congressti and state legislaturs should pass laws offering harsher penalties for threats, acts of violence against election officials viewing them
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as a threat against our democracy. privacy, many threatsts as we he heard against election officials and staff directly target their homesei and their families. more must be done to protect their privatete information from malicious actors and finally physical security and docks in. cybersecurity agency should build on the work they did on physical security in 2020 and offer training and guidance on physical security and dock scene preventing measures utilizing security advisors present in the state across all 50 states in the territories. we must also continue to improve cyber resilience of american election securityic infrastructe -- for securing this infrastructure goes hand-in-hand with protecting these officials. it starts by working with states to implement precertification audits of paper ballots and establishing working with-- on a voluntary basis, cybersecurity baseline to include things like multi- factual i thought--
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authentication, access control, patch management and moving election websites as well as additional scalable proactive services from-- to state local election officials. our elections are imperfect, but they are accurate, secure, accessible and fair because the tireless work of state local election officials and the only response to the attack on our democracy and against those who run it is a sustained investment in those working hard to protect it. i think you and look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much. just a factual question, first. do you all agree that threats against election workers increase during and after the 2020 election quacks--? does everyone agree? >> yes. >> do believe that makes art of her states and local government
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to recruit and retain election workers and volunteers? >> yes. >> secretary hobbs, can you expand on the extent of threats based on what you have seen and experienced. do you agree there should be federal action to address it? >> absolutely. as i shared my testimony they were armed protesters outside of my house. i had to have 24 hour security and installed security features in my home. my son's phone number was a docks. husband's workplace face calls with horrible accusations urging my husband be fired because of me. no one should have to face this behavior because of their work as an election of fictional, so yes, federal action is needed. there shouldan be consistency across the country in terms of protection for election workers just as many protections provided in the freedom to vote
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acted should not matter what state you are in to determine the level of protections you are afforded. furthermore, if it's for a federal election, for a federal office then there should be n federal protection. >> commissioner schmidt, can you talk about the decision to speak up against the about the threats >> i wrestled with a debit on the front and because on one hand you don't want to acknowledge people who do something like this. you don't want to sort of scratch that itch. you don't want them to know that they got to you, to know you read their text messages or their e-mail messages, so that was on the one hand why i was at first hesitant to share this, but on the other hand it's important to know exactly who these people are and what they
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are trying to do and obviously not just to me, too many others and in many cases far worse than mine, so at the end of the day i think it's a matter of being public about it outweighed my reluctance to acknowledge that they were even doing something like this. >> you previously noted because of where you are located in a city you had law enforcement help, you had legal support. can you speak briefly to how eathat compares experiences that might be faced by election workers in rural parts of your state or rural parts of the country and sometimes they are more difficult situations actually. >> i would say despite all of this i was very fortunate to be in the philadelphia at the pennsylvania convention center surrounded by literally hundreds of police officers in
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philadelphia sheriff's to keep us safe so that we could go about doing our job, which was to count the votes about the demonstrations were occurring right out front. whenever i left the convention center, sheriffs went with me and make sure that people who came at me or sort of kept at bay going back and forth to city hall from the convention center. we also i think i was fortunate that we had the whole solicitors at our disposal to fend off litigation that we were going through as we were trying to do our job. most counties in pennsylvania don't have that. they might have one part-time solicitor. they certainly don't have access to resources in philadelphia, so relatively compared to them it's almost embarrassing to be the
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person sharing this with you today because i'mwi sure many of them were not as well protected as i was. at home we installed a conference in home security system and made other investments to protect our home from people like this. >> thank you. mr. henderson can you comment on strongng production for election workers like those in the freedom to vote act? >> yes madam chair. as we have heard from a secretary hobbs and commissioner schmidt, what 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 faced death threats that go beyond the norm based on
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disinformation that continues to spew forth in ways that corrupt the integrity of our elections? certainly we think that for the people of the freedom to vote act and the john lewis loading rights act has protections that indeed election workers can benefit from. in fact, to challenge the legislations carrying out their responsibilities that is to say protects them from the kind of violence we say. it protects them from being replaced by partisan individuals who have no desire to carry out a fair and for election, but instead to manipulate the outcome in ways that affect the partisan nature of the election. what we have before us now are individuals who exemplify the best in our election system in
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the legislation which is currently under consideration in the senate has a number of provisions that would address these subversion bills that are being enacted in various states and it notably i should point out in a number of swing states that will make a difference in future elections, so whether it's arizona, wisconsin, pennsylvania, texas, georgia, we are seeing state legislators enacted thesect provisions and only by enacting the freedom to vote act and the john lewis loading rights advancement act we hope to advance these issues. >> thank you. i'm going to turn it to senator blunt and then senator murphy will chair while i go and vote. i thank you. >> 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
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workers now. what are you doing about that and when are your next elections in your state, secretary hobbs claimant we have elections going on right now, but most of those are by mail so we aren't having the same need to recruit as many poll workers as we will limit 2022 election. we will continue efforts at recruitment and help people will take part in this engagement, but it's a concern and we are absolutely seeing turnover in our offices and local election offices as well. >> so is your bigger concern the people that come and work polling places on election day or the people that are permanently identified as part of the election process by in your office or the local electionon officials? >> our concern really is the loss of that professional election administration and the drain, not just in arizona but across the country about folks that do this work and as i said
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before it's not worth it anymore for these not very high-paying jobs and combined with the level of threats they are experiencing at the moment. >> when you areth talking about the not very high-paying jobs, you are talking about in that case the not very high-paying permanent jobs? >> permanent jobs, yes. >> secretary adams, welcome back to the room even if it's virtually. same question, what are you seeing happen? have you had elections where you have had significant numbers of people available to conduct elections that day since november, 2020, and if you have what have you done about that and in fact i'm sure you have number? >> unfortunately, this year in
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kentucky-- we get one year off from election every four year cycle and that's this year-- [inaudible]]rt starting later this week with early voting so we have not seen much of an impact in terms of professional election administrators to say stable to election staff or my staff at the secretary of states office, we have not seen unusually large turnover with those folks, what we have seen is a lot of turnover with our county clerks who are elected officials. we have 120 counties. last year we had two clerks resigned in the middle of their term. they had just had enough and they were exhausted. it wasn't because they were threatened with harassment, it was because that job was extremely hard last year end they were just done. this year it was about 15 or so of the clerks that planned to hire next year.
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it's an unusually large number. i think isti attribute of more-- [inaudible] we have voting easier and kentucky than it had been. that's a harder job now to run an election, so we have seen some retirements they are. with respect to poll workers, i think 15000 poll workers to run an election in kentucky and i testified to her legislator after i was elected in 2019 before covid that we hadre a crisis with coworkers because they typically are in their 60s and 70s and as they are increasingly unavailable they are not replaced by younger generations. gen x has not stepped up in a volunteer fashion to be poll workers so that's a big problem we have. it's not just threats of intimidation, we are losing coworkers and we have to find a way to inspire people to volunteer not just election years. >> commissioner schmidt, what have you seen both with your
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permanent election day in and day out structure and any concerns about recruiting people to be at the polling places for election day? >> we in philadelphia that three city commissioners who oversee elections, narrative from the majority party. i have one from the minority party and i won't be running for reelection again and 2013 and a big concern of mine is that i will either be replaced by someone who is elected who is intent on denying the integrity of the election regardless of evidence or on the other side as someone who will not be sufficient check or balance to the democratic majority on the philadelphia election board. at the local level it's been an ongoing problem with losing poll workers just as the secretary said. elections have become increasingly complex. our city and many counties in the commonwealth acquired newer
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and better voting technology. that's a lot more complicated. in addition to you know the sort of strain we talked about here and our-- just instituted no excuse mail-in ballot voting which is an entirely new system on voting to the common law of pennsylvania we had absentee ballot voting before. elections have become more complex. many who work in elections, like what do you do the other 363 days of the year and really what we are doing is working every day to make sure election day runs smoothly because there is no redo when it comes to elections picked they have to be right and they have to be right every time. >> thank you. thank you, chairman.
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>> thank you very much. we will now turn to senator angus king who i believe is joining us electronically. >> thank you. glad to be with you. secretary adams, and delighted to beel with us today. i went to commend you for your comments at the beginning because part of the problem is we have converted political opponents into enemies and everything is a war and once we get-- go down that road of heated rhetoric, we really need to back off from that. sitting next to me a big chart of abraham lincoln's second inaugural and that's where he said with malice towards none and charity for all. if anyone had any reason for malice it was lincoln at the end of the civil war, but he didn't. i commend you for that. let me ask a question. is voter problem may-- is voter fraud a problem in kentucky? >> i would maintain it is not currently. it has happened in the past.
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typically it's occurred in situation where there's a perfect storm in three ways. number when it happens at the local level. it's not occurring at a statewide level or a congressionalsi level. it's happening in a small town or a small county where only a few votes can potentially tip a race. number two it's generally for a job that involves patronage. in other words there is some sort of reward for the winner and the ability to distribute funds or jobs or what have you. number three, tends to occur in a place where there is poverty where votes can be small-- bopper a small amount of money and that's where we typically see voter fraud here it's something that does happen. >> i think what you said is important because what you said is consistent with everything i have read and heard about voter fraud across the country and that is its isolated. it's not widespread massive
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millions of votes. it's one person votes for a dead person or something, but it's very unusual and in rare cases. we areca talking around the problem here with a lot of the conversation today about thed danger and threats to election officials. the reason those threats are made is that people are told something that is untrue, that a they was massive fraud and be election officials were in on the fraud. mr. matheson, including a lot of this be alleviated if our leaders simply tell the truth? >> thank you, senator king appeared certainly our work at the stanford internet observatory in the work i did at sis was to push people to the trusted sources of information about the fact of election and that's at state local election officials that had information about not only the security and integrity of the process, but assess ability and how the system works and so for us one
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of the core recommendations we have in combating the missing thisco information around elections is really driving and -- and elevating voices of election officials as is done here in this, hearing to show e facts about how elections are running this day, the fact that across all 50 states our elections are bipartisan, transparent and professional and sond yes-- >> the problem i see is this idea of massive voter fraud has become a pretext for changes of election law around the country in the name of ballot integrity when indeed it's the classic solution inf a search of aio problem where you are making significant changes which will inevitably affect a significant number of people. mr. smith, what about my thoughts that one of the most important, i mean, there's not enough state troopers inou the world to guard every election worker. bearing that in mind, isn't the
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best solution for our leaders to tell the truth to theirbo followers about the fact that 2020 and every election in recent history has been straightforward and honest and try to wean people from this idea that there's widespread massive voter fraud? >> not only are there not enough state troopers in the world to protect every election officials, but certainly not to protect our families as well. you are right in terms of the root were core of the problem and the solution normally to lie to tell the truth, that that is only met with so much success. typically that would be the antidotes and i haven't seen that successful as i would like it to. in addition i think it's about removing motivation for elected officials to lie about elections on the one hand and also on the otheran hand to take seriously d successfully prosecute these
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sort of threats targeting elected officials trying to intimidate them to either do one thing or not do another thing to do their job. >> thank you. mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank you very much. senator king and then we will turn to senator hudson. >> thank you, mr. chairman and my question is for secretary esther secretary, in your testimony you said voting in kentucky has never been as assessable or secured since you took office 21 months ago. our goal should be to make it easy to vote and hard to cheat. sounds like you have been successful in achieving that in kentucky and i applaud you and that achievement. one key proposal you focused on has been to press the state legislature to strengthen kentucky's voting loss.
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and voter idea-- id. due to your efforts i think you have accomplished that to show kentucky voters-- they have to show a voter id when casting ballots as well as in my state dof mississippi requires photo d to be shown at the polls. there's been a lot of debate in this committee about voter id and about what sorts of ideas states should be able to require. secretary adams, why do you think it's important to require a photok id specifically? >> i think we need the same degree of securing our elections as we doer with anything else, pat-- cashing a paycheck, getting on a plane, it's reasonable and i think it's important they are written in a humane way to ensure people have a path to get a photo id for free. we budgeted several hundred thousand dollars in our bill last year to make sure people had access to photo ids.
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when we had our election even in a pandemic did not have disenfranchised-- disenfranchisement that some might have supported this is just for the obvious reasons, but the other reason to do this is to have credibility when trying to do what i have tried to do, which is make voting easier. i found the best way to do election policy is to be bipartisan andpa across working with both sides and then give both sides their concerns democrats can be concerned about access and rightly so and republicans tend to be concerned about integrity and rightly so and that's the best of both worlds. >> so like it's truly helped secure accurate voters or elections in kentucky. this has been a step that actually did that? >> it's not a magic wand to be sure. there's other things we have done that have added security as well. absentee ballot requests and
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tracking portal, we use that to verify voter's identity, but also ensure access to absentee ballots and help the voter track the ballot from the comfort of their home to see where it is in the system holding us accountable. it's appropriate to your wii band ballot harvesting. i asked for and got additional authority for voter rolls to be cleaned up and in these things all got democratic back in the legislature. i think that is the best way with respect to congress and to do it in a bipartisan way. >> in your testimony you spoke a little bit about the election reform bill in kentucky. i wanten to outline how impresse a bipartisan achievement that the bill was. it past the kentucky house of representatives only three days after introduction by an overwhelming vote of 93-four. it past the kentucky state senate just a few weeks later by an overwhelming vote of 33-30,
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and was signed into law by the democratic governor a few weeks afterov that i'm just hopeful tt we can capture some of that kentucky spirit here in the u.s. senate and learn to perceive the legislation i can 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 reform from-- when the issue has become so partisan in other states and on the federal level? how did kentucky achieve that? >> well, look i guess 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 clement our system to that reality. i did not feel comfortable asking for all of that power. i was the new kid in town.
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i asked the r democratic governr be included. i had seen what happen in other states where there was partisan warfare between branches of government, between democrats and republicans and that led to election breakdowns and i didn't want that to happen in our stay. i did not know that would set an example later for bipartisanship in legislation. i'm grateful for that. when congress is at its best, posts come together across party lines and i hope we doar that again. >> thank you so much. my time is at. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thanks very much. next up, senator merkley. >> madam chair, if you had stayed longer i could have, myself. >> there we are. >> thank you. good to have you back. i wanted to ask you, secretary hobbs, some questions. the review of the ballots in arizona, did they turn up cases
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of noncitizens being organized about? >> no. >> did you have a form about mining mail? >> as. >> i was struck in a previous committee we heard from us senator that the strategy of the voting by mail was a strategy to enable illegal immigrants develop. is there any sense that in arizona you established vote by mail in order to allow illegal immigrants to vote? >> absolutely not. in arizona but by mail was established by a republican majority legislature decades ago and it's enjoyed by at least a 75% of our motors every election, closer to 85% this last one. >> thank you. we also have before this committee jocelyn benson secretary of state of michigan so i asked her that question becausee of their vote by mail f they had reviewed and they have done a search for that type of a fraud and she had and she sent us a letter that laid out every step of the way how they insure
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the citizens of voting had found a zero cases there appeared as far as i'm aware we have a zero cases in oregon. oregon initiated vote by mail. we did have an oregon over the course of a decade in which 61 million ballots were cast, sustained cases of a 38 cases of voter fraud here i'm not saying it doesn't exist depicted two of voter fraud where someone filling out a ballot in one state like in a primary or general election and then moving to another state and filling out a ballot in their new state. that is certainly not a criminal strategy, i don't believe. >> i would agree with you. that's the same kind of instances we are seeing in arizona. >> that led me too my next question up what kind of problems you did find? did you find ballots shipped in from china because i kept hearing the news that this was a
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major major problem in the arizonaar elections? >> there were no ballots shipped in from china or anywhere else. >> what did you find for the fraud from this a second audit or this long extended audit? >> well, it wasn't an audit. at the procedures that they went through really were not procedures at all. certainly not acceptable at any level by election professionals. and they were on a fishing expedition to find problems. the problems they came up withh in their report were manufactured. in fact, the proper place for election challenges is in court and as i mentioned in my opening , we had nine such legal challenges in arizona and they llall failed to. there is a simply no evidence of any of this widespread fraud that's continuing to be alleged in arizona. >> so, let me turn to
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mr. henderson. mr. henderson, we are hearing fraud is continuing to be alleged in arizona after basically none was found according to secretary of state, so you had mentioned that one of the steps in the strategies is weapon icing the examination of ballots and reviews of ballots to spread distrust in the election system. what is the purpose of this effort to undermine election systems that are actually workingy well? .. 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 intended to demonstrate by way of a privatey company cyber ninjas, that apparently fraudulent votes had been
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counted and determine the outcome of the election. fortunately, the very thorough, not review itself because the review wasn't thorough, but the examination of what occurred in arizona has demonstrated clearly that no fraud existed. and yet that effort has sponsored similar initiatives in states like wisconsin and texas and pennsylvania. in texas alone the state was won by the previous president, and yet notwithstanding that there is a desire to determine whether fraudulent votes were cast. and certainly the use of a focus of some have mentioned, you mentioned, on undocumented 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
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emergence of new sources of political power among communities of color. this effort to host, to hold reviews, the sham reviews, is intended to intimidate those voters and to discourage them from coming out in future elections. we have seen that in state after state. and texas is a a good example where a previous investigation was conducted by the department of transportation focusing on individuals who were previously legally resident but had not yet become citizens, and some are suggesting that that population had cast votes fraudulently. there was absolutely no evidence to that effect, and many of the voters who had previously been in that pool of legally admitted resident aliens went on to become u.s. citizens, and should've been entitled to vote. the effort to intimidate them into not coming back in future
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elections has been consistent throughout states that have chosen to have these audits, ant that's what we say they are intended to really disenfranchise future voters. >> thank you very much. i appreciate that. >> thank you very much, senator merkley, thanks for all your work in this area. senator hagerty is next. >> thank you, chair klobuchar. secretary adams, , i like to tun my next question steve. you voters tend to have more confidence in elections when the rules are set by members of their community? intercourse with local conditions and preferences, or when the rules are actually dictated and completely partisan fashion by washington politicians and bureaucrats? >> i can't say i have lived through that experience but i can tell you that i believe part of the reason we were able to produce this reform that got phrased in washington and around the country is because we were allowed to, because we were
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allowed to as a state, solve these problems for ourselves. , . 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.
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i do think there are some things that would reduce the security of our process. there's no question they would 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
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ballot harvesting at the time. there is now. that is the kind of stuff i do not want to see happen, 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
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not think it will be well received. people have confidence in may, their county clerk, their poll 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
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kentucky. that is the case in tennessee as well. we had record turnout in 2020 thank state's leadership. 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.
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he had the courage to stand up to the national media and the state groups and -- we made it 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.
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>> thank you, senator padilla. >> as most of you know, before i 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
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hear story after story of election workers who now fear going to work. who are afraid that their 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,
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providing ballots, etc.. are you concerned that this may 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.
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period. even today, more than nine months after president biden was 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
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not trust or believe the results of our elections, our democracy in -- is unhealthy. 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.
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a professional postelection audit, based on proven standards and methodologies are an 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?
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>> senator, i do not know that there is time left in the day. 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
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today. in pennsylvania, every county in the commonwealth conducts an 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.
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from my understanding, arizona, who otherwise would be unauthorized access to the actual voting systems in 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
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operations officer of the secretary of state in georgia, a republican and republican appointee, in which he urged the then sitting in defeated 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 --
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restriction and is a -- an assault on voting rights. >> i think what has been much more ongoing and constant than 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
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would be helpful. but there is just -- i cannot describe how constant it is and 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
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interference, and in local control? can you please comment on how 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
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warnock have introduced legislation that would seek to limit the ability of state boards of election to interfere at the local level to remove 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
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of elections and the way some of you that. as has been noted at the outset, and questions posed to the 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.
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inc. you for your testimony. i would know as well i've introduced the voters -- 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
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address confidentiality program have calls to their lines or emails sent to them with 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
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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 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
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tiktok. but we now know that a new trove 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
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promotion of correct or factual information, highlighting the voices of state and local election officials, also the 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
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election information, the first thing to come up is the secretary of state or local election information as a poster 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
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factual, you might get alike. people agree with you. maybe i put one out that senator blunt and i did a bill together, 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.
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this disinformation, misinformation campaign has undercut public willingness and acceptance of the election 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
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like texas. my colleagues at the mexican american legal defense of education fund for a lawsuit 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 --
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>> thank you, madam chair. 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.
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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 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.
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that is what we ought to do here. i urge my republican parties -- 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
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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 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
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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. 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.
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in this very room, we made a number of changes to the bill to make it easier for rural areas to comply. 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
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from trying to get some kind of agreement, or most important late getting something passed. with that, i turn it over to 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
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years. the point historians make, it reached a point where they could 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
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president's department of homeland security, saying it is the most secure election. 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
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vote by mail. you told me you have vote by mail in your state and it is fraud free. why do you think former 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
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holds water. my theory is this, that it is very easy to manipulate the vote on election day. 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?
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we don't, really. i want to give you an example. 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
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organ that have found the election fraud, aren't we facing 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.
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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 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
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election day is actually the following thursday as opposed to the tuesday on which an election 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 --
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>> 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 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
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ranking member want, he had to go to another meeting. 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
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serious he sets can be. these threats are inexcusable. if we do not act, we cannot 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
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drafters of our constitution anticipated that the congress would have a role in making or 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
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undermine -- efforts in states to undermine election results 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
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thank you very much. the hearing is adjourned. we will keep the record open for one week. thank you. [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
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