We recently received an announcement from the American Bar Association regarding a collaborative effort to mobilize lawyers to work with and assist poll workers during the upcoming 2022 election. The ABA announcement reads in part:
” The American Bar Association is collaborating with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and the National Association of State Election Directors (NASED) to once again issue a call aimed at mobilizing lawyers to assist as poll workers for the upcoming 2022 election. The Poll Worker, Esq. Initiative encourages lawyers, law students and other legal professionals to assist in upcoming elections by serving as poll workers… ”
Reading this announcement prompted us to search for some other examples of lawyers organizing, assisting and advising poll workers involved in the upcoming midterm elections. On a more general level we have also identified sources which should provide lawyers and others with useful information related to working at the polls.
The Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has services in place for providing volunteers throughout the election cycle to ” give [those in need] voter information, document problems they encounter when voting, host voter protection field programs and work with partners and volunteers on the ground to identify and remove barriers to voting. All of our work is focused on protecting and defending the right to vote – we will provide guidance and information to help any American”.
The Chicago Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, “Working with the national Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Kirkland and Ellis LLP, and numerous organizations representing communities of color, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee leads the local team for Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition. During the 2018 election season we trained and … monitored hundreds of polling places throughout Chicago and suburban counties”.
In his post on the NPR website about elections, Hansil Lo Wang writes “This year,  high school students, military veterans and lawyers are among the potential applicant pools some local and national recruiting efforts are targeting to make sure there’s enough staff to check in voters, issue ballots and process votes , but making a call to serve can be tricky in 2022 with election officials and workers in many parts of the U.S. facing an unprecedented level of scrutiny — along with harassment — driven by election deniers.”
A New York Times May 30, 2022 article reports that Cleta Mitchell a lawyer who plotted to overturn former president Trump’s election loss is recruiting election deniers to watch over the vote during the 2022 midterm election. According to the article, ” In seminars around the country, Ms. Mitchell is marshaling volunteers to stake out election offices, file information requests, monitor voting, work at polling places and keep detailed records of their work. She has tapped into a network of grass-root groups that promote misinformation and espouse wild theories about the 2020 election, including the fiction that President Biden’s victory could still be decertified and Mr. Trump reinstated”
The following is a selected list of resources that should be of general interest to anyone interested in working working with and assisting poll workers;
Who’s Observing at the Polls? by Wendy Underhill
Politifact, The Poynter Institute: Poll Watchers are short staffed, under attack–and quietly defending democracy.
IRS. Election Workers: Reporting and Witholding.
“Each election year, thousands of state and local government entities hire workers to conduct primary and general elections. To understand the correct tax treatment of these workers, you need to be aware of specific statutes that apply to them as well as whether they are covered by a Section 218 Agreement.”