Counties across the country are likely to see massive turnover in their local election administration before the 2024 election, a new study finds.
On Tuesday, the Brennan Center for Justice released a survey which found that about one in five local officials will have never worked a presidential election by the time the 2024 race rolls around. Out of 10,974 officials polled, 21% of them either began serving after the 2020 election or said they were unlikely to stay until the 2024 cycle.
“This rate of turnover is equivalent to one to two local election officials leaving office every day since the 2020 election,” the study said.
The officials polled cited threats and harassment – which have plagued the field since former president Donald Trump started propagating the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him – as rationale for their decisions.
“Nearly three in four feel that threats against election officials have increased in recent years,” the study said. “Over half say they are concerned that threats, harassment, and intimidation will harm retention and recruitment; likewise, nearly half are concerned about the safety of their colleagues and/or staff.”
According to the study, nearly one in three local officials had been threatened, harassed or abused personally for their work, while about a quarter said they knew of others who’d left their jobs “at least in part because of fear for their safety, increased threats, or intimidation.”
Local election officials have faced an uptick in harassment since 2020. A 2021 study found that one in three election officials felt unsafe at their jobs.
Seasoned industry vets are resigning at a rapid pace: Tommy Gong, who worked as clerk-recorder in San Luis Obispo County, California, left the job in 2021 after receiving a note that said “We The People are coming for your corrupt head.”
Similarly, former Cochise County elections director Lisa Marra resigned in January after her work environment became physically and emotionally threatening, according to her lawyer. She was replaced on Tuesday by an official who boosted numerous social media posts doubting the validity of the 2020 election.
Some states, like Minnesota, are trying to pass legislation granting legal protections for election workers, but they don’t seem to have stemmed the tide away from the profession just yet.