Almost 40% of local election officials surveyed report threats or abuse, says a new report

A survey of local election officials across the U.S. found that 38% report experiencing “threats, harassment or abuse” and 54% are concerned about the safety of their colleagues, according to a report released Wednesday by the Brennan Center for Justice.

The survey of more than 925 local election officials in February and March also found 62% are concerned about political leaders’ attempting to interfere with how election officials do their jobs.

Thirteen percent of the local officials who responded said they are “concerned about facing pressure to certify results in favor of a specific candidate or party.”

“Election officials are adjusting to ensure workers and voters are safe. The numbers around threats, harassment and interference remain unacceptably high, but election officials aren’t being passive in the face of this hostile environment. They are investing in security trainings, increasing physical and cybersecurity measures, and building stronger networks with emergency management services,” said Lawrence Norden, senior director of elections and government at the Brennan Center, part of the New York University School of Law.

NBC News has reported on growing security threats facing election workers as the November presidential election approaches. Many local jurisdictions have said they need more money for more security and more training about what to do should a threat to the safety of election workers arise.

Hanging over the election workers are false claims spread after the 2020 election by former President Donald Trump and his supporters, who insist the election was “stolen” from Trump because of election workers who manipulated the results.

Trump has recently told supporters at his rallies that votes go missing or end up thrown on the floor in areas like Philadelphia.

Omar Sabir, chair of the city commission that runs Philadelphia’s elections, received a threatening voicemail and email. “We have insiders that will be snitching this time around and violators will be sent to federal prison,” the email said.

Sabir and others have said federal government should do more to keep local officials safe.

Four out of 5 respondents in the Brennan Center survey said their budgets need to grow to keep up with their administration and security needs.

Turnover is another top concern for officials, as many are fighting to find new hires amid high dropout rates due to retirement and security concerns.

One in 5 are unlikely to continue to serve in the 2026 midterms, and 27% know of colleagues who have left their jobs because of concerns about safety.