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The powerful legal network defending election officials under threat

June 3, 2024

On June 4, 2021, in the Opinion section of the New York Times, attorneys Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg called attention to an urgent and growing problem: Election officials at every level, from volunteer poll workers to secretaries of state, were under increasing attack from people who believed the false claims that the election of 2020 had been stolen.

This was not a partisan concern. Bauer is a Democrat and former White House counsel under President Obama. Ginsberg is a Republican who practiced election law for 38 years representing Republican candidates. But together, they recognized the potential existential threat posed by the growing threats against the country’s nonpartisan system of elections and those who administer it.

Three months later, in September 2021, Bauer and Ginsberg announced in the Washington Post that they were launching the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN), in partnership with the nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research (CEIR), to provide pro bono legal advice and defense for election workers under threat. Bob Bauer and Ben Ginsberg would serve as co-chairs.

The clock was ticking. The 2022 midterm election was 14 months away, and 2024 would bring another presidential contest. Each new election would bring new exposure for these workers. And as long as false claims of election fraud continued to line the pockets of those who promoted them, those claims would return with each election—and with them new threats and harassment aimed at election workers.

Work began immediately to build a nationwide network of qualified, licensed, pro bono attorneys through a coordinated outreach effort aimed at individual attorneys, law firms, legal associations, and other organizations.

As of May 2024, after more than two years of steady recruitment, EOLDN has an extensive network of attorneys spanning 47 states, providing robust legal advice and defense for election workers under threat or harassment.

But the need for legal support is ever-growing. The complexities and challenges faced by election workers in the current environment require a continually expanding coalition of legal experts.

For more information, or to file a request as an election official in need of legal assistance, visit EOLDN.org or call (877) 313-5210, day or night, to request connection to a lawyer at no cost.