Voter suppression is an issue that undermines democracy. As the 2020 elections near, there are four areas of particular concern that have emerged: voting registration list purges; polling place changes; old and defective voting machines that do not record votes; and challenges for vulnerable communities, including students from out of state, lower-income communities, and communities where English is a second language.
Lawyers are well equipped to educate. That is why it is important to know your state’s voting laws. Find out your state’s registration process and deadlines and the particular challenges your state’s voters encounter. Then share what you learn with neighbors and friends. We can also help others litigate and work with elected officials to legislate. Reach out to help the attorneys and legislators in your state who are already on the front lines. Anything you do will help ensure the right to vote.
The organizations described here are part of the many organized efforts helping every voice be heard and are great places to begin.
American Civil Liberties Union
The ACLU has recently filed two lawsuits against Brian Kemp and all Georgia county registrars to combat the repressive voting requirements. You can donate to ACLU chapters in states that are particularly vulnerable to voter suppression. You can also sign the petition to pass the Voting Rights Advancement Act, which restores protections to the Voting Rights Act stripped by a 2013 Supreme Court decision.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice/Asian Law Caucus
Asian Americans Advancing Justice provides a voter hotline with assistance in nine Asian languages and ways for people to check their voter registration, understand their ballot, and know their voting rights ahead of time. Get involved by volunteering or donating on their website.
Brennan Center for Justice
The Brennan Center for Justice is a great resource if you need a good place to start educating yourself about voter suppression. Sign up for their monthly newsletter to stay informed about their work.
Common Cause fights to expand voting rights and eliminate gerrymandering. This organization has a step-by-step guide to help write letters to the editor. Volunteers are encouraged to work at a Common Cause state office, phone bank, and text bank to help organize their community.
Election Protection provides information about polling locations and absentee ballot information and has a nonpartisan hotline to call if things go awry on voting day. Call (866) OUR-VOTE if you think someone is illegally being denied the vote, if your polling machine breaks, or if there aren’t enough ballots, etc. Attorneys can sign up to volunteer with Election Protection to help on-the-ground efforts to protect voting rights. Nonattorneys can sign up as poll monitors on Election Day.
Indivisible makes it easy to help get out the vote. Online tools make it easy to text or call voters in key swing elections—even if you are not in that state—to remind them to vote. They also have tools to help you organize locally.
League of Women Voters
The League of Women Voters is involved in federal and state voting rights cases around the country and actively opposes discriminatory voter photo ID laws, attacks against the voter registration process, and holds lawmakers accountable when they try to institute last-minute Election Day barriers. Call your local chapter today.
Let America Vote
Let America Vote recommends hosting a “Voting Rights House Party,” providing housing for volunteers, and door knocking for 2020 candidates who are fighting voter suppression.
If your state in particular has issues with voting rights, donating to or volunteering with your local NAACP is a great way to get involved. Local chapters know the specific needs of your area and in many locations run get-out-the-vote campaigns in which you can help.
Spread the Vote
Spread the Vote helps voters get IDs ahead of Election Day. Voter ID laws in particular affect communities of color, the elderly, and new voters. This organization helps people navigate state ID laws, can assist with application fees, and drives voters to the DMV to get an ID.
Voto Latino has registered more than 300,000 young voters, many of whom they reached by launching the country’s first text-to-register voter registration campaign. They are also the minds behind National Voter Registration Day.