Amid growing election threats, Voting Rights Act amendment proposed by Congressman Andy Levin

After 2020 election, almost 800 threatening messages were left with election officials acros 12 states, including 100 which could warrant prosecution, according to legal experts.

On Monday, Michigan Congressman Andy Levin introduced a new bill to amend the Voting Rights Act to increase penalties and prohibitions on violence, threats, and intimidation aimed at election workers. 

Republican State Senate candidate Mike Detmer told a Livingston County group to ‘show up armed’ when discussing election fraud and "be prepared to lock and load." 

"The ideal thing is to do this peacefully. That’s the idea. But the American people at some point in time, if we can’t change the tide, we need to be prepared to lock and load," he said.

Comments like these, which Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and Attorney General Dana Nessel, see as threats against election workers. That's part of the impetus behind the Election Worker and Polling Place Protection Act which was introduced by Congressman Andy Levin in the U.S. House. A similar bill is being introduced in the Senate.

"This is really, I feel like, is existential to our democracy. This issue of having safe elections for everybody," Levin said.

"This kind of legislation is needed throughout the entire United States. Because we see it happening, not just in Michigan, not just in Detroit, we see it happening everywhere," NAACP General Counsel Chui Karega.

We all remember the scenes of protestors showing up outside the TCF Center to protest the election process and then the results. They eventually moved their protests inside the building as ballots were being counted.

Friday, municipal clerks from Ferndale, Madison Heights and Royal Oak spoke about the increase in threats they too have witnessed since the 2020 election.

"One election official in our county actually received death threats to her and her family," Madison Heights City Clerk Cheryl Rottman said.

Ferndale’s City Clerk, Marne McGrath, says they’ve added active shooter training for election workers because of threats of violence.

"In my experience partisanship doesn’t factor into election administration. The municipal clerks that I know are solely dedicated to compliance w election law. I learned very early on doing this work that, who's winning and losing is not of consequence - it’s not what matters on election day," McGrath said.

If passed, Levin's bill would expand protection of volunteers, the equipment, and workers. It would also create penalties for damage done to polling places.