Election Law

Lawyer volunteers devote increasing hours to election protection efforts

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More than 150 law firms and about 23,000 volunteers are participating this year in an election protection program run by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

The number of volunteers is about five times the number in 2016, the American Lawyer reports. Volunteers will answer questions about polling places, mail-in ballots and other election issues.

The program has hotlines to answer voter questions; the English language version is 866-OUR-VOTE.

Some large law firms anticipate that their volunteer work for the program will be higher this year, firm partners told the American Lawyer.

Bill Silverman, a pro bono partner for Proskauer Rose, told the American Lawyer that the law firm has more than 400 volunteers for the program this year, compared to a little more than a hundred in 2016.

At Simpson Thacher & Bartlett, volunteers had worked 1,500 hours to assist voters through the program as of one week before the election. In 2016, law firm volunteers worked a total of 870 hours.

Harlene Katzman, pro bono counsel and director at Simpson Thacher, told the American Lawyer that the election protection program is getting an “unprecedented” number of calls.

“In September, the election protection folks told us they were getting about 1,000 calls a day, and by the beginning of October, it was 3,000. And last week, they’d averaged about 5,000 calls a day,” Katzman said.

The National Bar Association is also helping voters with the help of an estimated 7,000 volunteer lawyers, the Daily Report reports. The group is working with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, as well as other groups and historically Black sororities and fraternities.

National Bar Association members are seeking to correct ballots that were wrongly given a time stamp for Nov. 3 and a time that is three hours past the deadline for mail-in ballots, C.K. Hoffler, president of the National Bar Association, told the Daily Report. The ballots were filed in October. The National Bar Association is also trying to cure ballots without postage that were deposited in a Philadelphia mailbox disguised as a ballot drop box.

“Every day there is literally another case,” Hoffler told the Daily Report.

ABA President Patricia Lee Refo, meanwhile, encouraged lawyers, law students and legal professionals to work as poll workers in the election.

“Poll workers are integral to ensuring a free and fair election, and lawyers are especially suited to assist,” she wrote in the ABA Journal.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: “At least 18 former ABA presidents sign call to safeguard election process”

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