Lawmakers in Vermont, Maine, and Washington are considering passings bills to protect election officials, along with new laws to prosecute those who threaten them, after 850 nationwide threats were documented following the 2020 election, Reuters reported.

Nearly every threat was related to former President Donald Trump’s unfounded claims that the election was stolen. About 100 of those threats met the threshold for criminal prosecution. 

One bill in Maine, authored by a Democratic State Rep. Bruce White, seeks to enhance penalties for those who “intentionally interferes by force, violence, or intimidation” with election administration.

The Justice Department announced its first indictment Friday. Chad Stark, a 54-year-old Texas man, allegedly posted a message on classified advertisement site Craigslist on Jan. 5, 2021, calling for “Georgia Patriots” to kill election officials.  

“Georgia Patriots it’s time for us to take back our state from these Lawless treasonous traitors. It’s time to invoke our Second Amendment right it’s time to put a bullet in the treasonous Chinese [Official A]. Then we work our way down to [Official B] the local and federal corrupt judges,” read the message.

Two measures in Vermont would make it easier to charge suspects for criminal threats and toughen penalties for those who threaten public officials. An unidentified man left threatening messages for Secretary of State Jim Condos, prompting Condos to write several messages to lawmakers to draft legislation that set a clear standard for prosecution. 

The bills would alter free speech protections guaranteed by the first amendment. Advocates of the legislation argue the intent is to bring state laws in line with federal standards, which prohibit direct threats of violence.

The American Civil Liberties Union is monitoring both pieces of legislation and has not taken a position.

Attorney General Merrick Garland says the Justice Department has a responsibility to protect the right to vote and protect those who administer voter systems from violence.