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Rallying Lawyers to the Defense of Election Workers

Feb. 15, 2024

Click here to watch the panel discussion. 


A call went out at the midyear meeting of the American Bar Association for lawyers to step up in defense of free and fair elections and those who administer them.


Participating in the event were David Becker, executive director and founder of the Center for Election Innovation & Research, and Angie Pitha, project lead at the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN).


Becker described the work of election officials in 2020 as “a triumph of American democracy,” managing the highest turnout election in American history in the midst of a pre-vaccine pandemic while under-resourced, understaffed, and worried about getting sick themselves. Despite these challenges, “their work has withstood scrutiny like no election anywhere in the world.”


“We should have thrown them a parade after this,” Becker said. “Instead, they’ve been subjected to a constant onslaught of threats, abuse, and harassment. Three years of accusations, of false information, of court cases, and every time, their work has stood up. It is an incredible accomplishment, these men and women all over the country, Republicans and Democrats, red states and blue states.”


Pitha then described the Election Official Legal Defense Network, a nationwide program to provide pro bono legal advice and protection for election workers under attack, encouraging the attorneys in the room to join. “We match election workers in need with someone in our network who has agreed to provide legal guidance, and if appropriate, potential representation in court.”

Becker reinforced the message, saying he is concerned about false information and the stress it places on election workers. “It’s really important for election officials to know there are citizens across the political spectrum that have their back,” he said. “Lawyers will play a really big role in this and in the election overall.”


The ABA has also stepped up with a number of programs in support of democracy, including Poll Worker Esq., which encourages lawyers to bring their expertise and convictions to service as poll workers. Lawyers can also help educate the public by looking at election pre- and post-litigation to explain to citizens what transpired to help diminish misinformation.


The Task Force for American Democracy and the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice Perfecting Democracy are other ongoing ABA initiatives supporting free and fair elections, and the ABA’s Young Lawyers Division announced its Public Service and Civic Engagement initiative to get more young lawyers participating in civic engagement.


For more information about the Election Official Legal Defense Network, visit EOLDN.org.