[co-author: Alexander Volpicello]
For the past 14 years, Proskauer has partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in its Election Protection initiative, a nonpartisan project mobilizing law firms, law schools, in-house counsel, and other members of the legal community to ensure every vote is counted fairly and equally. Proskauer will again host a national call center to provide comprehensive voting information, as well as monitor election-related issues.
Countdown to Election Day: Making Your Voting Plan
In the midst of a pandemic and with less than a month until Election Day, every American must have a plan to ensure their vote is cast. If you choose to vote in person, locate your local polling place online or through the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, arrange for transportation, and no matter how long the wait may be: stay in line. Make sure you know your polling place’s hours, and bring the documentation your state requires. Review your employer’s policies regarding taking time off to vote, and arrange for childcare, if necessary.
Most importantly, register to vote. Even if you believe you are already registered, check your registration status and confirm your information is up-to-date, especially if you have recently moved or have prior convictions. Consider helping others register to vote. Many states have altered or failed to extend their registration deadlines, and others have recently purged their voter rolls, including for very minor discrepancies in your voter record of which you may be unaware.
Ensuring You Have the Right ID
Many jurisdictions require some form of voter ID to cast a ballot. We highly recommend reviewing your state’s laws to determine what documents you need to bring, as well as confirming that the identification you have is allowed and still valid. In an analysis of four key states in the 2016 election, the Lawyers’ Committee found that misinformation about the new voter ID requirements resulted in continued voter confusion, making it absolutely essential that you do your research in advance. The process to receive a government-issued photo ID can take time, so plan ahead to ensure you have the proper identification in-hand on Election Day.
Voting During the Pandemic
Voters must also be aware of numerous recent policy changes in light of COVID-19. Keep apprised of these changes in your locale through the Lawyers’ Committee’s alerts. When deciding whether to vote in-person or by-mail, know whether COVID-19 is a valid excuse for requesting an absentee ballot in your state. In response to public health measures, your polling place may have moved or limited its hours. As with every other public location, you should wear a mask and respect social distancing requirements.
What to Do When You Need Help
Now that you are armed with information and excited to cast your ballot, please know that trained volunteers are available to help should you face barriers to voting on Election Day. You have a right to vote free from influence and coercion. If you witness any suspected voter intimidation or partisan activity, please report these potentially illegal activities to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline immediately. We also urge you to report right away any malfunctioning or broken voting machines, a lack of provisional ballots or refusal to provide one upon request, and any determination from poll workers that denies your ability to cast a vote. Election Protection volunteers will work with you, community organizations on-the-ground in your state, and Lawyers’ Committee representatives to escalate these issues and, if necessary, the Lawyers’ Committee will bring litigation to challenge any perceived voting rights violations.