Election officials are coming under unprecedented attack for doing their jobs. Some states are attempting to criminalize the exercise of these officials’ trained professional judgments; some officials have been the target of threats to themselves and their families. Any American — whether Republican, Democrat or independent — must know that systematic efforts to undermine the ability of those overseeing the counting and casting of ballots on an independent, nonpartisan basis are destructive to our democracy.
The two of us have been partisan opponents in the past, representing opposing political parties to the best of our abilities. But at this moment in time, we share a grave concern about attacks on those public servants who successfully oversaw what was arguably the most secure and transparent election in our country’s history, with record turnout, during a global pandemic. If such attacks go unaddressed, our system of self-governance will suffer long-term damage.
So, in partnership with the nonprofit and nonpartisan Center for Election Innovation & Research, we are launching the Election Official Legal Defense Network (EOLDN), which will connect licensed, qualified, pro bono attorneys with election administrators who need advice or assistance. State and local election workers anywhere in the country can go to EOLDN.org, or call the toll-free number (877) 313-5210, at any time, 24/7, to request to be connected with a lawyer who can help them, at no cost.
This service will be available regardless of the officials’ political affiliation or where they work — that is, whether they are in a blue or red state or county. We already have lawyers committed to provide this volunteer support, and we are recruiting more. As co-chairs, we will be supported by a bipartisan advisory board of experienced state and local election officials of both parties, from across the nation. The response from these officials has been extraordinary and gratifying.
When we co-chaired the Presidential Commission on Election Administration in 2013-2014, we saw how essential it is for election officials to have the space, resources and respect to perform their critical jobs. We both came away extremely impressed with their dedication and performance.