Pro Bono Services Offer Protection From Voter Suppression

Part of the GOP’s platform is blatant voter suppression — sometimes through legal gerrymandering and sometimes through illegal intimidation tactics. Either of these strategies should be fought against because they reduce the ability of our elected officials to represent the greatest number of people. Tens of millions of people in this country are represented by state officials who lost the popular vote. That shouldn’t happen!

Onika Williams is a 37-year-old lawyer who volunteers with Election Protection, which is a platform created to protect our democratic interests — with bipartisan support. Williams helps field calls to the hotline the platform helped create. She said, “Voters are engaged and they want to make sure their votes count.”

Almost 24,000 lawyers have offered their services pro bono to ensure our rights are protected at the polls.

Have a question about registration? Where to vote early? How you can track your ballot after sending it by mail? Worried about heading to the polls because of coronavirus? You’re not alone.

President Kristen Clarke of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law said, “The volume of litigation and intensity of the phone calls makes clear that the 2020 election is a season like none other in recent times.”

Many of the groups that make up this platform have helped create the foundation or strengthening of lawsuits to challenge the many changes being made by the Trump administration during this election season — and also because of simple mistakes. For example, Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law successfully sued the state of Virginia when the voter registration system was disabled due to a cut fiber optic cable.

Over 100,000 calls were phoned in over only a few months — or nearly 7,000 each day. This is an enormous amount of interest compared to the previous election, which saw only 21,000 calls in the entire year before Election 2016.

Pro Bono Counsel and Director Harlene Katzman at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP said, “The onset of COVID-19 has posed really unprecedented challenges to voters all across the country.”