At the frontlines of democracy, state- and local-level election employees ranging from poll workers to absentee ballot counters to election commission members ensure the integrity of the election process. They allow citizens to elect their representatives in a fair and efficient manner.
From attempts by foreign nations to access state voter rolls to illegal voter intimidation to the purging of voter registration rolls, election workers may be the best and last line of defense to protect the integrity of the election process essential to our representative democracy.
If you are an election worker who has observed wrongdoing, please contact Government Accountability Project to receive assistance from experienced attorneys in disclosing the truth safely and effectively.
What to Know Before Reporting Wrongdoing
Each wrongdoing case is unique, requiring an analysis of the facts before a legal strategy is determined. While the following information is neither comprehensive nor should be construed as offering legal advice, it offers some basic guidance on available rights before reaching out to experts at Government Accountability Project to further assist you.
Election Workers' Whistleblower Rights
A whistleblower is an individual who discloses information that he or she reasonably believes evidences a violation of law, rule or regulation; gross mismanagement; a gross waste of funds; abuse of authority; or a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety. Unfortunately, anti-retaliation protections for election workers vary across states and even localities, requiring a unique analysis for each whistleblower by experienced attorneys.
Complex Whistleblower Protections
Election workers, as state and local government employees, are not covered by most federal whistleblower protection laws, but may be protected under state, county and/or municipal-level whistleblower protections laws. While various rights and remedies may exist to encourage election workers across the state government system to blow the whistle on serious abuses, the legal landscape is complicated.
Each law that may exist will have different remedies, different procedural steps, and different paths for enforcement. Not only can it be difficult to evaluate available legal options for state-level election workers depending on the unique set of facts, but it can also be challenging to navigate the legal process once a particular path is chosen. A thorough analysis requires assessing, among other factors, the whistleblower’s job status, which agencies are involved, the content of the disclosure, to whom the disclosure should be (or was) made, and what kind of reprisal was suffered.
State & Local Whistleblower Protection Laws
Whistleblower protection laws vary from state to state, with some offering robust local and/or state statutory protections, in addition to common law protections, for public and/or private sector employees who report misconduct. Other jurisdictions and municipalities offer almost no meaningful protections at all.
In addition, existing state laws may or may not be preempted by a federal remedy, and each may have very different prescribed processes and timeframes within which employees must make disclosures or commence legal action.
State, local, and private sector employees should consult with experienced attorneys who specialize in whistleblower law to assess potential legal rights and remedies available at the federal, state and local levels.
We Can Help You Make a Difference
In our experience, whistleblowers will always come forward in the face of wrongdoing, whether their legal protections are weak, strong, or even non-existent, as long as they believe that speaking out will make a difference. While we are already working to support stronger statutory whistleblower protections for state-level election workers, we also have significant experience supporting whistleblowers and ensuring their information promotes accountability despite weak legal rights.
Election workers at the state and local government-level and other whistleblowers who have additional information about misconduct should know that their disclosures will fuel further efforts to ensure that our elections and democracy function as they must, for all citizens, this November.
If you are an election worker who has observed wrongdoing, we encourage you to reach out to Government Accountability Project where attorneys experienced in whistleblower laws and protection can help you determine how to raise concerns safely and effectively.