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.
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 has been no ongoing 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.
3,144+ counties in the United States
This is the challenge we're taking on: a trained volunteer lawyer in each of the counties identified by a blue pin on this map. Each county has one or more decision-making bodies responsible for running elections.
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, including:
- Attending local election board meetings
- Gathering evidence of potential voter suppression
- Reporting issues into a national database
- Following up on recommended next steps
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 from the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the 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, determination letter pending) in partnership with the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Institute.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Make a donation to the L4GG Foundation to support Election Watch.
If you're a lawyer (or law student), sign up to volunteer in a county near you.