We are the Election Protection Legal Committee for the Georgia Election Protection Coalition – a local presence for the National Election Protection Coalition led by the Lawyers’ Committee For Civil Rights Under Law. The Lawyers’ Committee is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization formed at the request of President John F. Kennedy. The Legal Committee focuses on helping to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a ballot and have their vote counted.
During the 2004 election, Election Protection mobilized 25,000 trained volunteers nationally, who monitored polling places, educated voters, facilitated a dialogue with local and state election officials, provided legal support to poll monitors, and answered the voter protection hotline, which received over 200,000 calls from voters in all 50 states. The Election Protection Legal Committee managed the effort in Georgia.
Election Protection 2006 focused more intensely on fewer locations to provide more effective, efficient assistance to voters throughout the voting process, from registration through Election Day. A broad national coalition, as well as state and local coalitions, led voter protection efforts in targeted locations around the country, including in Georgia. Nationally, Election Protection mobilized over 2,000 volunteer lawyers law students and paralegals, covered 48 states and the District of Columbia, utilized 27 Election Protection Legal Committees in 19 states with eight local call centers and six national call centers and responded to 26,000 calls, including nearly 18,000 on Election Day. Georgia operated a call center with ten phone lines, and trained 113 volunteers. Georgia received 1399 calls second only to Ohio. Many of these calls involved questions about identification necessary to vote, and the confusion about what was required as a result of State and Federal litigation.
During the Fall of 2007, the Election Protection Legal Committee helped support Georgia Southern University students who had registered to vote in a municipal election in the city of Statesboro, Georgia. A group calling itself Statesboro Citizens for Good Government filed a blanket challenge to the eligibility of 909 student voters. The Board of Registrars found probable cause for the challenges, and the student/voters that were challenged were required to vote a challenged ballot. With the threat of litigation, initiated by Georgia Election Protection, and the prospect of lengthy hearings on each individual challenge, the challengers ultimately dismissed the challenges, but many student/voters did not vote because of the challenge. This class type challenge is an example of “vote caging,” a practice that a bill sponsored by Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse seeks to ban.
In February 2008, the Election Protection Legal Committee was in operation for the February 5, 2008 Presidential Primary. We operated a call center with ten lines, trained nearly 125 volunteers and received 900 calls including 689 on Election Day from voters in 42 counties. The call center also helped callers from Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.
The Election Protection Legal Committee had a larger program for the November 4, 2008 General and Presidential Election. We operated a call center and had over 600 volunteers.
Throughout the 2010 election process, our volunteers - more than 10,000 strong nationally and 200 in Georgia - will be entering data and information into OurVote live (developed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation), an interactive environment painting the most comprehensive picture of election irregularities from the perspective of the voter available anywhere. Unique in the excitement of this political season, Election Protection focuses on the voter - not on the political horse race - and provides guidance, information and help to any American, regardless of who that voter is casting a ballot for.
The Lawyers’ Committee is the lead legal organization for Election Protection. The Election Protection Legal Committee coordinates meetings with election officials in Georgia to help ensure a smoother system for voters. The Legal Committee will operate a legal command center and a call center and deploy mobile field volunteers and poll volunteers at key voting locations in the metro Atlanta area. Look for our volunteers wearing their Election Protection Volunteer t-shirts! Also, the national Lawyers’ Committee will again host the 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) hotline to assist voters across the country through the registration process and early voting, as well as on Election Day.