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Gendered abuse targets female election officials

April 2024

Many of the 80 percent of election officials who are women report facing distinct misogynistic threats and harsher, more menacing language than their male colleagues.

Not only have women felt the disproportionate burden of attacks, but the threats aimed at them have a different psychological impact. On Issue One’s Women Who Make Democracy Work webinar, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, who is an advisory board member of the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN) said that female election officials “certainly get some of the more disgusting, violent threats.” These gender-based attacks compound the already horrific harassment that election officials endure every day.

Harassers also specifically target the female family members of election workers. “The kind of threats [my male colleagues] receive are not just against themselves,” said Secretary Toulouse Oliver. “They are largely against the women in their families, their wives, their daughters…That just paints the picture a little bit more about where they think we as election officials are vulnerable.”

These threats have taken a toll on election workers, and many have been driven to resign. On the same webinar, Claire Woodall-Vogg, executive director of the Milwaukee, WI Election Commission and a member of EOLDN’s advisory board, shared a sentiment echoed by election officials across the country: “No matter what you do, not feeling like you’re able to take care of your family in your home and make everyone feel safe is just very defeating.”

It’s challenging enough to run elections, and thousands of people do so every cycle and dedicate themselves to excellence. But those who bravely show up to work while being targeted with vile, gender-based abuse are to be especially thanked.

If you have experienced threats like this, you are not alone. We encourage you to reach out to EOLDN to explore your options if you believe you would benefit from legal support.

ABA recognizes democracy defenders

Unsung Heroes of Democracy Award

The American Bar Association (ABA) Unsung Heroes of Democracy Award “honors lawyers, election workers, everyday citizens and non-profit organizations that stand up for democracy and the rule of law.” The award recognizes that anyone can play a role in protecting our democracy, and we thank and celebrate these democracy defenders.

The ABA is currently accepting nominations for the Unsung Heroes of Democracy Award. Please note that only ABA members can submit nominations, but if you have a nomination you’d like to submit, please forward it to info@electioninnovation.org and we’ll forward it to the ABA.

Law Day 2024: "Voices of Democracy"

It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate theme for the May 1, 2024 Law Day than “Voices of Democracy.” Law Day celebrates the rule of law, emphasizing how lawyers and the legal process provide justice and contribute to the freedoms that Americans share.

EOLDN in-network attorneys act as voices of democracy when they commit to supporting election workers. As one volunteer said: “I believe that our democracy is being threatened as never before by people who are attacking every aspect of our election process, and I want to do what I can to stand up for those election officials.”

If you are an attorney who shares this concern, we encourage you to use your voice and skills to defend election officials by joining the EOLDN network.

Join CEIR & the Committee of Seventy on April 23rd

The Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR) is co-hosting a webinar with the Committee of Seventy on election administration in Pennsylvania and its implications for the rest of the country. Our speakers David Becker, Executive Director of CEIR, and Lauren Cristella, CEO of the Committee of Seventy, will also answer questions from the audience.

When: Tuesday, April 23, 12pm ET

CEIR Report: Casting a ballot is easier with the expansion of voting before Election Day

A recent report by CEIR shows that voting has become easier in the past two decades with the expansion of voting before Election Day. CEIR Executive Director David Becker said, “For voters who have been told there are powerful forces trying to prevent them from voting, or may have experienced that in the past, it’s not their fault for thinking that voting might be harder than it is. Honestly, they’re why we did this report.” Increasing the options for voting before Election Day has been and is a bipartisan effort.

Click here to subscribe to the CEIR Newsletter.

EOLDN Spreads the Word

EOLDN addressed the LFAA Voting Rights Working Group in March, discussing the distinct threats, harassment, and intimidation that election officials from historically marginalized groups face and how law firms can support election workers. This presentation to the LFAA Working Group led to the immediate expansion of EOLDN’s network.

Interested in having EOLDN at your event? Contact us at outreach@eoldn.org.

What is EOLDN?

The Election Official Legal Defense Network is the brainchild of former Presidential Commission on Election Administration co-chairs Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg. David Becker, Executive Director of CEIR and an elections expert, leads EOLDN. 

EOLDN offers two services in support of election officials:

Pro Bono Legal Assistance: This service matches experienced pro bono attorneys with election officials who have been harassed and intimidated for simply doing their jobs of running fair elections.

Free Communications Assistance: This service matches election offices with free communications assistance to combat mis-, dis-, and mal-information about elections in their communities, educate voters, and provide general strategy support.

Share Resources with EOs 

Please forward this message to your contacts and take a look at our digital toolkit that makes it easy to share information about our free, safe, and nonpartisan legal and communications services.

Election Officials, Request Help

Click here to request legal or communications assistance on our website, eoldn.org or contact us via email at help@eoldn.org or phone at 1-877-313-5210 anytime.

Click here for EOLDN Terms and Conditions. If you believe you’re eligible to receive help from EOLDN and are interested in requesting assistance from a pro bono attorney or communications professional, we encourage you to get in touch.

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Attorneys, Join Our Network of Lawyers

Please forward this message to attorney contacts, so EOLDN is prepared for 2024 and beyond. We need all types of attorneys, as election officials can experience a wide variety of legal issues stemming from their duties, and many simply need general guidance. Learn about joining the network as a pro bono attorney, or as a law firm, here

Interested in helping us recruit other attorneys or firms into the network? We have information to help you present EOLDN to other lawyers. Please email outreach@eoldn.org for more information.