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Program Overview: Election Watch

Election Watch is a nationwide non-partisan program run by the L4GG Foundation in partnership with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Institute

The Problem

2016 was the first presidential election in more than 50 years held without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act ("VRA"), thanks to a 2013 Supreme Court case (Shelby County v. Holder) that gutted key provisions of the VRA. As a result, amongst other serious problems:

  • 14 states had new voting restrictions in place - including cutting back early voting, restricting voter registration, and imposing strict voter ID requirements. These restrictions disproportionately impact people of color, young people, and low-income people.
  • There were 868 fewer places to vote in 2016 than there were in 2012.
  • Voting changes made at the local level (counties and county-equivalents) now often go unnoticed and unchallenged, even though those changes can have a serious impact on voters' access to the ballot.

When voter suppression tactics prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote, election outcomes fail to represent the true will of the people.

While there are a number of organizations and programs dedicated to protecting voting rights, with more than 3,144 counties or county-equivalents in the United States making decisions at various times throughout the year, there is no current system in place to monitor, report on, escalate and address problematic decisions made by local election boards across the country on a year-round basis.

The Solution

Election Watch is a non-partisan program designed to ensure that at least one trained volunteer lawyer in every county or county-equivalent in the U.S. is keeping tabs year-round on voting changes at the local level - so we can proactively identify and address voter suppression issues in time to do something about them prior to elections (rather than only being able to litigate these issues after the damage has been done).

Volunteer lawyers will be trained and provided with the information and resources required to be effective. As issues are reported by county-based volunteers, they will be reviewed by a national steering committee (including representatives of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the American Constitution Society Voting Rights Institute). Based on that review, issues will be prioritized, next steps will be assigned, and results will be tracked.

The program is being run by the Lawyers for Good Government Foundation (our 501(c)(3) entity, although we do not yet have our determination letter) in partnership with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Institute.

3 Ways You Can Help

1. If you're a lawyer (or law student), sign up to volunteer in your county or a nearby county.

2. If you can, make a donation to the L4GG Foundation to help us get Election Watch off the ground. We estimate that Phase 1 of the program will cost approximately $150,000 and we're doing everything we can to raise those funds as quickly as possible. Our best hope of getting that done in the near term is through individual donations from members and supporters like you.

3. Spread the word about items #1 and #2 above. If you have friends, colleagues, family members, or other contacts who would be a good fit as volunteers and/or might be in a position to contribute to Election Watch, PLEASE point them to this blog post and encourage them to get involved.

Questions?

If you have any questions about Election Watch, please e-mail us at support@l4gg.org.

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