Annoy an election official, face a hate crime investigation?
With a government that colludes with social media platforms to suppress Americans’ speech and targets conservatives as “domestic terrorists,” election volunteers are not laughing off the possibility of such retaliation.
Senate Bill 364, which is working its way through Virginia’s Democrat-controlled General Assembly and is set to be heard in subcommittee Monday morning, would take existing criminal statutes that protect Virginians from assault, battery, or damage to property, create a protected class for election officials, and call the same offenses “hate crimes.”
Anyone convicted of such offenses against election officials would be added to the Virginia State Police “hate crime” database.
In addition, language in SB 364 would help social media companies avoid First Amendment challenges if they collude with government actors to restrict speech and suppress dissent. So long as the social media provider acts in “good faith” to “restrict access to” material that it believes is “harassing, or intended to incite hatred on the basis of” a person’s status as an elections official, it would face no tort liability. The bill arrives as major First Amendment cases involving Big Tech collusion with government agencies to suppress speech about Covid, and elections, are before the U.S. Supreme Court.