Even if your practice doesn't typically include civil rights issues, on Election Day it might be worth offering your two cents as an attorney when it comes to voting.
If early voting is any indication, the day's events may lead to some nasty encounters and questionably legal activities in polling places. Ensuring that the election is fair and legal is the right thing to do if you can help with the process. But it's also a good way to show your skills and potentially gain new clients.
You don't need to become an election law expert overnight. We've collected the Top 3 legal issues you might see on Election Day that you could possibly help voters with:
- Lack of accommodations. Equal access is just as important for voting as it is for housing and employment, so polling places must have reasonable accommodations for the disabled. But they also have to provide language accommodations for people who are not fully literate in English. Be on the lookout when you vote. If you see someone having an issue, it's not a bad idea to step in and clarify the law.
- Illegal campaigning. Campaigning near polling places is considered a form of intimidation. While each state has different rules on how far campaign materials must be kept from a polling place, in general, if you can see it from the door, it's probably not legal. In many states that also goes for what voters wear -- i.e., campaign T-shirts and buttons. Tell your clients to let you know if they think illegal campaigning is affecting their polling place. If you see what looks like unlawful campaigning, make a note of it to poll workers.
- Voter ID issues. More states than ever have instituted new voter ID requirements, or at least tried to, in the run-up to the election. Familiarize yourself with the voter ID laws in your state and then be prepared to use that knowledge on Election Day. Be there to help voters having trouble with poll workers who may be misinformed about the law. Your knowledge may avert a problem, but if not, at least the voter has an attorney on hand who can help.
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