UNITED STATES NEWS

Nevada becomes latest to enhance penalties for election worker intimidation after statewide exodus

May 30, 2023, 4:08 PM

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Those who harass, intimidate or use force on election workers performing their duties in Nevada could soon face up to four years in prison under a new law signed by the Western swing state’s Republican governor on Tuesday.

The law is meant to deter attacks against those in state and local election offices who have faced increased scrutiny for doing their jobs, Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said Tuesday. Threats and initimidation of election workers had ramped up significantly in Nevada and across the country amid falsehoods and conspiracy theories about foul play denying former President Donald Trump victory in the 2020 presidential race.

Other states have taken similar steps to better protect election officials in recent years, including New Mexico.

The bill, passed unanimously through both chambers of Nevada’s Democratic-controlled Legislature, was a core campaign promise from Aguilar, who cited an exodus of election workers across the state due in part to increased threats. The law also makes it a felony to disseminate personal information about an election worker without their consent.

“I want election workers to know that the secretary of state’s office has their back,” Aguilar said at the ceremony.

Aguilar stood alongside Republican Gov. Lombardo at the bill signing ceremony — a pair that have recently sparred over Lombardo’s proposal to require voter ID, to which Aguilar has opposed and legislative Democrats have described as a non-starter since the beginning of session.

Over half of the top election officials across Nevada’s 17 counties election threats. Many of their staff members had resigned too, along with an exodus of workers in the secretary of state’s election department leading up to the 2022 midterms. That was due both to election burnout and better opportunities elsewhere, the office said at the time.

Aguilar’s campaign vow to protect election workers and restore trust in elections became a foil to his opponent, Republican Jim Marchant, who led a nationwide coalition of secretary of state candidates seeking to discredit the electoral process. Several election deniers were defeated in Nevada statewide elections despite the split-ticket outcome. Lombardo was endorsed by former President Donald Trump but pushed back against his false claims of a stolen 2020 election, saying there was a “modicum” of fraud but not enough to sway an election.

Another bill that recently made it to Lombardo’s desk would criminalize so-called “fake electors,” or anybody who signed certificates falsely stating when a candidate wins a certain state to the National Archives — as six Nevada GOP members did in 2020. Spokeswoman Elizabeth Ray said the governor’s office declined to take a specific stance on that legislation, which includes a higher-level felony for the fake electors than the bill signed Tuesday.

Aguilar’s bill became particularly timely after a federal court acquitted a Las Vegas man of charges from threatening calls he made to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office the morning after the Jan. 6, 2020, attack on the Capital. The indictment alleged that Gjergi Luke Juncaj accused a woman who answered his calls of “stealing the election” and treason; said he hoped her children were molested; and said those working in her office were “all going to die.”

“I can tell you, it has put a chilling effect in our office as of today,” Aguilar said at a bill hearing the day after the court ruling. “Because people are afraid … They are struggling just knowing that something like this can continue to happen. And that is why this law is so needed.”

Had the state law been in place at the time of the threats, “(Juncaj) would not be a free man today,” Aguilar said on Tuesday,

The penalty would be one to four years in state prison with the possibility of probation — the same as it is to harass, intimidate or use force on voters.

The bill was amended before a state Senate vote to prohibit all state officers — including the governor, secretary of state and legislators — from campaign fundraising during the legislative session, which runs every other year from February to early June.

___

Stern is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms. Follow Stern on Twitter: @gabestern326.

United States News

Associated Press

Shooting kills 3 people including a young child in a car on an Alabama street

Three people including a young child were killed when their car was targeted with multiple gunshots outside a residence in Birmingham, Alabama, on Saturday evening. The Birmingham Police Department said in a social media post that a triple homicide investigation was underway in the 3400 Block of 27th Street North. The police said officers responded […]

24 minutes ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is covered by U.S. Secret Service a...

Associated Press

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman who shot and injured Trump was able to get so close

The Secret Service is investigating how a gunman was able to get close enough to shoot at former President Donald Trump at a rally Saturday.

1 hour ago

Carlton Smith, left, and Justin Nimmo pose in from of the console of the Barton Opus 234 theater or...

Associated Press

Reviving Hollywood glamor of the silent movie era, experts piece together a century-old pipe organ

DETROIT (AP) — A massive pipe organ that underscored the drama and comedy of silent movies with live music in Detroit’s ornate Hollywood Theatre nearly a century ago was dismantled into thousands of pieces and stashed away. The Barton Opus, built in 1927, spent four decades stored in a garage, attic and basement in suburban […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, left, and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator ...

Associated Press

Can a Medicaid plan that requires work succeed? First year of Georgia experiment is not promising

ATLANTA (AP) — By now, Georgia officials expected their new Medicaid plan, the only one in the nation with a work requirement, to provide health insurance to 25,000 low-income residents and possibly tens of thousands more. But a year since its launch, Pathways to Coverage has roughly 4,300 members, much lower than what state officials […]

3 hours ago

Catherine Ward, owner of One Acre Farms, a functioning educational farm to help special needs kids,...

Associated Press

After Beryl, Houston-area farmers pull together to face unique challenges

PORTER, Texas (AP) — Hurricanes cause trouble for everyone, but farmers have a whole other list of problems. Beryl has been no exception: Over the past week, the storm damaged crops, soaked rabbits and chickens, terrified goats, put horses at risk of developing colic and left cows without fences to keep them penned in. And […]

3 hours ago

Debris from the Titan submersible, recovered from the ocean floor near the wreck of the Titanic, is...

Associated Press

The first Titanic voyage in 14 years is happening in the wake of submersible tragedy. Hopes are high

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The company that owns the salvage rights to the Titanic is undertaking its first expedition to the ship’s wreckage in years, and those involved in the mission said they have both heavy hearts and lofty goals for a trip happening a year after a submersible disaster involving another firm killed five […]

3 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

Nevada becomes latest to enhance penalties for election worker intimidation after statewide exodus