Merkley, Wyden Join Legislation to Safeguard Elections from Partisan Interference

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden joined colleagues to introduce the Preventing Election Subversion Act, legislation which would institute new safeguards to insulate state election administration from partisan pressure, and empower non-partisan local election officials. In 2022, state legislators across the country introduced over 150 bills in 27 states that would grant more power to partisan actors to interfere with or threaten election workers or processes.

“Voting rights remain under attack, but tactics to suppress voters have taken new insidious forms. Since the 2020 elections, election subversion by MAGA Republicans escalated to mass voter challenges and blatant local board of election takeovers,” said Senator Merkley. “We must protect the will of the voters who are the bedrock of our Democracy.”

“The integrity of the ballot box must always be protected from partisan bad faith actors scheming to subvert Americans’ right to vote,” said Senator Wyden. “I’m proud to join my colleagues to introduce legislation that would create new safeguards to insulate election officials from partisan pressure and empower them to carry out their sworn duty.”

This legislation is led by Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) and – along with Merkley and Wyden – is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Mark Warner (D-VA), John Fetterman (D-PA), and Peter Welch (D-VT).

Election officials have become the subject of threats and harassment fueled by false allegations of election fraud. Forty-five percent of election workers nationwide say they fear for their colleagues’ safety, and over one in ten say they’re very or somewhat likely to leave before the 2024 elections. The Preventing Election Subversion Act would address these threats by:

  • Limiting arbitrary and unfounded removals of local election officials by permitting removals of local election officials only for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office, and provide a federal cause of action to enforce this standard;
  • Allowing a local election official who has responsibility for federal elections and who has been subjected to removal proceedings by a state board of elections to remove that proceeding to federal district court for redress; and
  • Requiring that challenges to a voter’s eligibility to register to vote or to cast a ballot from anyone other than from an election official are supported by personal knowledge with respect to each individual challenged.

The Preventing Election Subversion Act is endorsed by Fair Fight Action; ACLU; Black Voters Matter; FaithWorks; National Domestic Workers Alliance and Care in Action; Interfaith Alliance; and We Vote We Win. 

Earlier this month, Merkley co-led and Wyden joined the landmark Freedom to Vote Act voting rights package, which would set basic national standards to make sure all Americans can cast their ballots in the way that works best for them, regardless of what zip code they live in, and includes their updated legislation to prevent election subversion.