U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today delivered an opening statement during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing entitled "Protecting Our Democracy's Frontline Workers." This hearing will include testimony from officials at the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) on threats to election workers for the first time since the 2020 election--and the first formal update to Congress since DOJ's announcement one year ago that it was launching a task force to address the rise in threats against election officials. The hearing will also feature testimony from election officials including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
"In a recent survey, one in six election officials reported receiving threats because of their jobs on the frontlines of democracy. Many of these threats were inspired by false claims of fraud surrounding the last election--claims that culminated in President Trump's Big Lie."
"Thanks to the January 6th Committee, many Americans now know the story of Ruby Freeman, a 62-year-old grandmother in Fulton County, Georgia. She and her daughter, Shaye Moss, are two of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who worked the polls on Election Day in 2020. Soon after Election Day, they found themselves at the center of the Big Lie when Rudy Giuliani promoted a viral video that he claimed showed Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss counting illegal ballots. In reality, Giuliani's claim was false. The only thing Ms. Freeman and Ms. Moss were guilty of was performing their civic duty--diligently and faithfully."
"Ms. Freeman was repeatedly harassed and threatened at her home, which she fled shortly before January 6 after the FBI warned that she wouldn't be safe there Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss are not alone. Despite administering what the former President's own administration called "the most secure" election in American history, election workers throughout the country--of both political parties--have been forced to take extraordinary steps to protect themselves and their families."
"Over the past several months, my office has heard from individual election workers who shared stories of the violent threats they have been subjected to. Many of those election workers have submitted statements for the record for today's hearing. These threats have taken a disastrous toll on our democracy. According to a recent survey, roughly one in five election officials plans on leaving their job ahead of the next presidential election."
"As we look ahead to this year's election--just under 100 days away--I hope we learn the right lessons from the last election. The former President's plot to overturn the election wreaked havoc on America. We saw that for ourselves on January 6 and public servants, like Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, are living with the consequences of his Big Lie every single day of their lives."
"I look forward to learning more about the steps the Justice Department and CISA are taking to protect election officials in the months leading up to November. And I hope every member of this Committee will join me in condemning the threats that those officials continue to face."