Threatening poll workers who might stand up to Republican intimidation with jail time is one of their more despicable tactics:
Anita Phillips has been an election judge in Texas for 17 years, responsible for managing a precinct in Waco, a city of roughly 135,000 people. But over the last four years, the civic duty she prized has become arduous. Harassment by partisan poll watchers has grown increasingly caustic, she has found, and helping voters is ever more treacherous amid a thicket of new rules.
Those regulations are likely to grow stricter: Republican lawmakers in Texas, following in the footsteps of their counterparts across the country, are pressing forward with a voting bill that could impose harsh penalties on election officials or poll workers who are thought to have committed errors or violations. And the nationwide effort may be pushing people like Ms. Phillips to reconsider serving their communities.
“It’s just so taxing,” Ms. Phillips said. “And if me — I’m in my 40s, and I’m having this much stress — imagine every election worker and election judge that is 65 and over with severe health issues. This is supposed to be a way for them to give back. And it’s supposed to be something that makes them feel good about what they’re doing, but now they’re starting to feel like, ‘Are we going to be safe?’”
Ms. Phillips is one of millions of citizens who act as foot soldiers of the American democratic system, working long hours for low pay to administer the country’s elections. Yet this often thankless task has quickly become a key target of Republicans who are propagating former President Donald J. Trump’s lies about the 2020 election. In their hunt for nonexistent fraud, they have turned on those who work the polls as somehow suspect.
There are arguments that have held up worse than “Donald Trump’s authoritarianism is nothing to worry about, really” but not many.