States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, Law Forward Put Spotlight on Election Interference Schemes by State Legislators in New Report

Published: 4.22.21

WATCH: Livestream with Bipartisan State and Local Election Officials: HERE

Washington, D.C. — Today, the States United Democracy Center, Protect Democracy, and Law Forward released a report analyzing the emerging nationwide trend of partisan state legislatures trying to seize control over election administration away from trusted expert elections officials. As of early April, there have been at least 148 bills introduced in 36 states that would interfere with election administration. The new report, Democracy Crisis in the Making: How State Legislatures are Politicizing, Criminalizing, and Interfering with Electionsanalyzes more than 50 of the worst bills across the country and finds an alarming pattern in what appears to be a clear reaction to the 2020 election.

To put a spotlight on this alarming trend, the States United Democracy Center and Protect Democracy hosted a livestream discussion today with bipartisan state leaders and local election officials, including Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson, and Senior  Advisor on Elections at Democracy Fund Voice Tammy Patrick. The discussion focused on how many of these bills threaten to make elections unworkable, render results more difficult to finalize, prevent election officials from responding  to natural disasters and public health emergencies, and starve local officials of resources to run elections. The group of bipartisan leaders also highlighted concerns that many of these bills are based on the same lies about the 2020 election that led to the insurrection on January 6th. They noted that had some of them been in place last year, the odds that the election would have been decided contrary to the will of the people would have increased significantly.

“Let’s be very clear, the bills we are seeing introduced across the country are not based in fact: they are  based on lies and conspiracies around the 2020 election,” said Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson. “Maneuvers like these shift power away from trusted local officials, and ultimately harm voters. It’s important we all stay vigilant and shine a light on this effort because it will directly impact the integrity and accessibility of future elections.”

“Elections have run smoothly for decades, thanks to the balance of power between state legislatures, state election officials, and local election officials – this system relies on synergy between bipartisan leaders,” said Trey Grayson, former Secretary of State of Kentucky. “Adding in partisan bureaucracy to the process threatens elections. As we saw recently in Kentucky, we need to make elections more efficient, not less.”

“Local election officials ensure that elections run smoothly, fairly, and securely,” said Senior Advisor on Elections at Democracy Fund Voice, Tammy Patrick.  “Interfering with the work they have been doing for years is a threat to democracy.  Giving these trusted professionals the autonomy and resources to do their jobs is how we keep elections safe, and ensure every vote is counted.”

“Our joint report sheds light on the troubling nationwide trend of state legislatures proposing legislation that intentionally interferes with the ability of state and local election officials to do their job, and potentially even the results of the election,” said Jess Marsden, Counsel at Protect Democracy. “This is an alarming pattern that appears to be a clear reaction to the 2020 election and could lead us down an anti-democratic path toward an election crisis.”

“We are seeing politicians who didn’t like the results of the 2020 election trying to change the rules by interfering with the way elections are run,” said Joanna Lydgate, CEO of States United Democracy Center. “The 2020 election saw record turnout and was praised as the most secure in American history, thanks to the incredibly hard work of state and local election workers, who adapted to an unprecedented set of challenges. Americans do not want state lawmakers politicizing, criminalizing, or interfering with the way elections are run in this country.”

“In an act of revenge for the 2020 election outcome, anti-democracy leaders have advanced an unprecedented set of measures to attack our election system,” said Norm Eisen, Chair of States United Democracy Center. “Had the worst of these proposals been in place last November, they might have resulted in a different outcome. And if we let them pass now, they will threaten our democracy in the future. This report is part of the effort to prevent that.”

The live stream is available to watch on Protect Democracy’s Twitter. If you are interested in speaking with any of the speakers or organizing groups, reach out to Claire Connolly, claire.connolly@berlinrosen.com


About the States United Democracy Center

The States United Democracy Center is a nonpartisan organization advancing free, fair, and secure elections. We focus on connecting state officials, law enforcement leaders, and pro-democracy partners across America with the tools and expertise they need to safeguard our democracy. For more information, visit www.statesuniteddemocracy.org.

About Protect Democracy

Protect Democracy is a nonpartisan, nonprofit with an urgent mission: to prevent our democracy from

declining into a more authoritarian form of government. For more information, visit https://protectdemocracy.org/.

About Law Forward

Law Forward is a nonprofit law firm focused on protecting and advancing democracy in Wisconsin. We use impact litigation, the administrative process, and public education to protect Wisconsin’s fundamental democratic principles, and revive Wisconsin’s traditional commitment to clean and open government. For more information, visit LawForward.org.