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Berman Introduces Bill to Combat Voter Intimidation

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO – Today Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Menlo Park) introduced AB 2642, the Protecting Elections from Armed Coercion and Extremism Act (PEACE Act). AB 2642 strengthens safeguards allowing voters to cast their ballot free from interference and intimidation. The bill updates existing anti-intimidation laws passed under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 for the current era of increased gun violence and election denialism by recognizing that the presence of guns in proximity to elections can be presumptively intimidating.

“In an era when our nation faces an epidemic of gun violence, as well as escalating election denialism and threats to elections officials and volunteers, we must prepare for the worst and continue to strengthen our election security and accessibility,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “The PEACE Act creates a first-in-the-nation policy to protect both voters and election workers. AB 2642 makes it clear that the polling place is not the place for guns, and ensures that Californians have the freedom to vote without fear of intimidation or harassment.”

"Elections have historically been safe havens from gun violence, but violent rhetoric and conspiracy theories around voting threaten to jeopardize that peace. For decades, California has led the nation on gun violence prevention and has the opportunity to lead again. The state can protect brave civil servants and voters from the type of extremism and violent actions witnessed across the country in the last few election cycles." Allison Anderman, attorney working with GIFFORDS Law Center.

"Every eligible American is guaranteed the right to vote in peace, free from intimidation. With voting already underway in 2024, this commonsense legislation would make California a leader in safeguarding that right. It strengthens the ability of voters and election workers to protect themselves from intimidation in the courts. And it reaffirms the genuine risk to voting rights posed by the presence of guns near our elections." Sean Morales-Doyle, director of the Brennan Center for Justice's voting rights program.

AB 2642 would establish a presumption that a person openly carrying a firearm while engaging in election-related activities is also engaging in voter intimidation. This bill would provide civil remedies for individuals who experience this type of intimidation, thereby supplementing the existing criminal prohibitions of intimidation. A nationwide poll conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice found that over half of election workers are concerned that threats, harassment, and intimidation may harm retention and recruitment efforts. Additionally, 30% admitted personally experiencing abuse, harassment, or threats due to their role as local election officials. In California, 44% of Californians will see a different election administrator in 2024 than the one who administered the 2020 election.[1] These statistics highlight the turnover and concerns surrounding harassment faced by election workers, even with existing criminal prohibitions. Strengthening these protections is crucial to ensure the safety and freedom of our elections.

The United States Supreme court has emphasized that the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution is not a regulatory straightjacket.[2] The Second Amendment allows for a “variety of gun regulations,”[3] and the Court has consistently recognized that states have the authority to restrict the carrying of firearms in “sensitive places,” including schools, government buildings, legislative assemblies, polling places, and courthouses.[4]


[1] Brennan Center for Justice, “Local Election Officials Survey”, April 2023, See also, Adrien Van Voorhis, et al, “The High Cost of High Turnover”, Issue One, Sept. 26, 2023,

[2] N.Y. State Rifle & Pistol Ass’n v. Bruen, 142 S. Ct. 2111, 2133 (2022)

[3] Bruen, 142 S. Ct. at 2162 (Kavanaug, J., concurring)

[4] Bruen, 142 S. Ct. at 2133; see also McDonald v. City of Chicago, 561 U.S. 742, 786 (2010) (Alito, J., plurality op.); District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570, 626 (2008).