Morgan Lewis Partners with Nonprofits to Prepare Voters and Protect Their Rights

October 13, 2020

Morgan Lewis has a well-established history of supporting voter education efforts and protecting the right of all citizens in the United States to elect their local, state, and federal government representatives. As in years past, we are partnering with nonprofit organizations throughout our communities to prepare voters and to protect their rights before, during, and after the election on November 3. Here’s how.

Removing Barriers to Voting

Among Morgan Lewis’s efforts to work with existing voting rights organizations to promote the education of underserved minority communities regarding their right and ability to vote, and to protect their right to do so before, during and after the upcoming elections, the firm is assisting the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (The Committee). Morgan Lewis lawyers are providing ongoing legal research regarding the changing election laws in a number of states (including updating information provided to voters and election protection volunteers regarding mail-in voting), as well as the issues surrounding potential challenges and delays to the voting process set forth in the Electoral Count Act of 1887, which governs the Electoral College. Additionally, our partner Kenneth Polite, a former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, spoke to federal criminal provisions that prohibit voter intimidation during a press briefing held by The Committee on voter intimidation threats and responses. Read more about the briefing on the Moyers on Democracy blog

Getting the Word Out

We have also extended our pro bono efforts to include several nonprofit organizations focused on direct voter advocacy and outreach, including The Leadership Conference Education Fund’s All Voting is Local campaign and Voter Protection Corps. Through these partnerships, we have supported the development of materials to help recruit and train local election workers and to help poll watchers and poll workers protect voters from intimidation

The firm is collaborating with The Andrew Goodman Foundation (The Foundation) and lawyers from a number of Morgan Lewis clients in writing 50 memoranda regarding each of the 50 state’s residency requirements for the purpose of establishing voting domicile. Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, many college students are sheltering off campus and, consequently, how and where they register to vote is in question. The survey will help inform The Foundation’s educational outreach to college and university students, including those attending historically Black colleges and universities, on how to exercise their right to vote.

We are working with VoteRiders.org to contact state secretaries of state and boards of elections to determine if voter registration websites will notify registrants in advance of the election of any problems with their registration, such as with their identification. This is particularly important for first-time voters, who may not have provided or recall if they provided a driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number when registering, as required by the Help America Vote Act.

Election Day Mobilization

For many years, Morgan Lewis lawyers have worked on Election Day with The Committee on non-partisan election protection efforts, including staffing voting hotlines. Voters call into these hotlines with a wide range of questions relating to the voting process, problems, misinformation, and voter intimidation. The goal is to ensure that every voter has the information and ability to vote in the upcoming election. This year, virtual call-in centers established by The Committee have operated on a daily basis since the beginning of the primary season with support from Morgan Lewis lawyers. Hundreds of participating lawyers from the firm have trained in advance of their official shifts, which will occur on November 2 and November 3.

On Election Day, in addition to staffing the call-in centers, Morgan Lewis lawyers will deploy to a number of community polling locations across the country to record and report incidents of voter fraud and intimidation and answer voters’ questions about the voting and voter registration process.

Making Sure Every Vote Counts

League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania v. Boockvar

A Morgan Lewis pro bono team joined forces with the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) to ensure that Pennsylvanians’ mail-in or absentee ballots will not be rejected solely based on signature issues following a June 2 primary in which 26,000 ballots were rejected, including for “signature-related errors or matters of penmanship.” The litigation terminated successfully when Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth issued guidance confirming that Boards of Elections cannot reject a ballot based solely on an election official’s belief that a signature does not match the signature in the voter’s file. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court subsequently confirmed that the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s guidance was appropriate. Read more about the win for Pennsylvania voters in the Associated Press.