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Intimidating An Election Worker Would Be A Crime Under Bill From Holt Lawmaker

 Michigan state Rep. Kara Hope, D-Holt
Courtesy photo
Michigan state Rep. Kara Hope, D-Holt

A bill from a Holt lawmaker would make it a crime in Michigan to intimidate an election worker.

State Rep. Kara Hope, D-67, says she introduced the legislation partly in response to actions at Detroit’s TCF Center last November.

Republican demonstrators chanted “stop the count” and banged on windows as workers tallied ballots inside. Police removed some of the protestors from inside the center for disruption and violating coronavirus restrictions.

Hope also referenced threats reported against election workers across the country.

The state has laws criminalizing disorderly conduct, harassment and stalking, but Hope says there's a need to specifically address intimidation against poll workers.

"I think it's important to explicitly protect election workers and election officials because of their importance to our democracy and the importance of voting," Hope said.

The bill, which has been referred to the House's committee on Elections and Ethics, would set misdemeanor penalties for actions that stop election officials from carrying out their duties. It defines "intimidation" as conduct that would make a reasonable person feel frightened, harassed or threatened.

All of the sponsors listed for the bill are Democrats, but Hope says the premise is nonpartisan.

"Election workers represent both parties and no parties," she said. "They do the relatively low -paying job of working elections out of a sense of civic duty."

The bill's supporters include the Michigan Association of Municipal Clerks, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, according to a news release from Hope's office.

Sarah Lehr is a politics and civics reporter for WKAR News.
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