The National Voter Defense Network seeks attorneys who can volunteer to defend voters arrested or charged under new anti-democracy laws passed in Georgia and in other states. The National Voter Defense Network is a collaboration of The New Georgia Project Action Fund, Southern Center for Human Rights, Advancement Project, Equal Justice Society, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Lawyers for Good Governance, and others.
For the past year, state legislators around the country have passed bills making it harder to vote. The freedom to vote is under attack in 48 out of 50 states. In 17 states, these laws are so regressive, so punitive, that activists have labelled them Jim Crow 2.0. Actions such as passing out water or food to people standing in lines to vote for hours are now criminal. Laws have been passed that will also allow state legislators and officials to invalidate votes that they do not like. It is clear that some people in our society want to suppress the vote, using Jim Crow 2.0 to disenfranchise Americans once again.
These laws disproportionately target voters of color, particularly Black voters. State legislators’ current assaults on voting rights are an attempt undermine the right to vote in our elections, made possible only by the 2013 gutting of the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder.
Many of us have been disheartened by these attempts to suppress the vote, but we will not let the accomplishments of the civil rights movement be undone. And now there is something you can do to push back.
Attorneys who volunteer for the network will be trained in voter defense and asked to deploy on the ground in Georgia following the September 21, October 19, November 2, and November 30 elections in 2021. We are initially asking for volunteers in Georgia only, but we may be expanding volunteer opportunities in other states later.
National Voter Defense Network will ask volunteers to cover their own travel expenses while deployed in Georgia. The Network will assist with logistics and travel savings opportunities. For those attorneys working in public interest or in government, the Network is exploring raising funds to subsidize costs for volunteers who need assistance. We will keep you posted about similar efforts in the 17 other states that have enacted the worst of these racist laws.
- Georgia’s new anti-democracy law SB 202 criminalizes the following activities:
- Handling a completed absentee ballot application (unless permitted by law);
- Opening a sealed absentee ballot envelope if not the voter or other authorized person;
- Allowing a person to see a ballot being marked, even if at home and having done so voluntarily, subject to certain exceptions;
- Giving water or food to a voter waiting in line to vote;
- Intentionally observing another person casting a ballot, unless a child or providing authorized assistance;
- Photographing a voted ballot; and
- Mailing or delivering to the board of registrars a person’s ballot if not a family or household member of that person.
SB 202 allows voters to be charged with misdemeanors, punishable by fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 12 months in jail. Many of these voters will not be able to afford legal counsel unless the National Voter Defense Network or other organizations provide pro bono attorneys.
Attorneys willing to volunteer are asked to sign up by September 17, 2021, online at VoterDefense.net. Supporters interested in supporting the fund to provide travel subsidies for volunteer attorneys can donate online at VoterDefense.net. The Network will accept volunteer registrations on an ongoing basis.