Thursday, September 18, 2008

Huge Voter Protection Effort To Be Launched

TPM Election Central | Talking Points Memo | Huge Voter Protection Effort To Be Launched Today
A group of civil rights lawyers is launching what it bills as the largest voter-protection effort in American history, planning to raise and spend millions of dollars to station hundreds of lawyers and thousands of volunteers at polling places across the country to help voters having trouble with the polls on Election Day.

The non-partisan group, called Election Protection -- to be announced at a press conference later this morning -- is being headed up by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a legal group established in 1963 in the heat of the Civil Rights Movement.

While the group ran a similar effort in 2004, the new effort will be on a far grander scale, reflecting a growing sense that private efforts to combat the bureaucratic ineptitude and premeditated shenanigans that continue to mar the voting process just haven't been up to the task.

"This will be the largest voter protection effort in the history of the country," project head Jonah Goldman, a longtime civil rights and election reform lawyer, insisted in an interview yesterday with Election Central. The backbone of their effort is a hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, that voters can call to have their questions answered, and to report problems.

Goldman says that the Lawyers' Committee has already raised $2.5 million for the effort, coming from individual donors and foundations like the Open Society Institute and the Tide Foundation, along with pro bono work from law firms.

Election Protection 2008 vows to employ hundreds of lawyers and law students at call centers across the country on Election Day. "We've expanded our volume, our capacity from 2004, and we expect to be able to handle over a quarter of a million calls this time," says Goldman, who's also director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections.

On top of that, the group plans to enlist tens of thousands of volunteers to physically assist people get to their polling station...

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