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Election worker harassment could lead to prison, big fine under Senate-approved bill

The measure was sparked by reports of threats to workers across the country following the 2020 presidential election.

OLYMPIA, Wash — The Washington state Senate on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure that would harden the penalty for harassing election workers.

The bill would make it a Class C felony to harass an election worker, with violations potentially resulting in a five-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.

The measure was sparked by reports of threats to workers across the country following the 2020 presidential election and the misinformation that followed and continues to date.

Democratic Sen. David Frockt, the bill's sponsor, said the measure is needed to address “a grievous threat to our democratic system.” It’s the second time the Democratic-led chamber has voted on the measure, first passing it last year. 

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The measure now heads to the House, also led by Democrats, where it died last year.

The Washington State Legislature kicked off its legislative session Monday. Lawmakers will have 60 days to convene and pass new laws or change old ones before the session adjourns on March 10.   

Gov. Jay Inslee called upon the Legislature to tackle issues including safe housing for those experiencing homelessness and clean transportation.

Inslee announced his plan to spend $815 million to address homelessness in December, with more than two-thirds covered by federal coronavirus funding.

Some issues state lawmakers are hoping to address include long-term care fund amendments, housing, transportation, law enforcement, and extreme weather preparedness.

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