“Harassed and Harangued, Poll Workers Now Have a New Form of Defense”

Michael Wines for the NYT:

It is perhaps a metaphor for the times that even the volunteer who checked you into the polls in November now has a legal defense committee.

The Election Official Legal Defense Network, which made its public debut on Sept. 7, offers to represent more than just poll workers, of course. Formed to counter the waves of political pressure and public bullying that election workers have faced in the last year, the organization pledges free legal services to anyone involved in the voting process, from secretaries of state to local election officials and volunteers.

The group already has received inquiries from several election officials, said David J. Becker, the executive director of the nonprofit Center for Election Innovation and Research, which oversees the project. Without getting into details, Mr. Becker said their queries were “related to issues like harassment and intimidation.”

The network is the creation of two powerhouses in Republican and Democratic legal circles, Benjamin L. Ginsberg and Bob Bauer. In a Washington Post opinion piece this month, the two — Mr. Ginsberg was a premier G.O.P. lawyer for 38 years and Mr. Bauer was both a Democratic Party lawyer and White House counsel in the Obama administration — wrote that such attacks on people “overseeing the counting and casting of ballots on an independent, nonpartisan basis are destructive to our democracy.”

“If such attacks go unaddressed, our system of self-governance will suffer long-term damage,” they said.

Mr. Ginsberg, who has broken with his party and become a scathing critic of former President Donald J. Trump’s false claims the 2020 election was stolen from him, and Mr. Bauer are themselves election experts. The two men together chaired the Presidential Commission on Election Administration established by former President Barack Obama in 2013, which called — with limited success — for modernizing election procedures and equipment to make voting easier and more secure.

In an interview, Mr. Bauer said he and Mr. Ginsberg were recruiting lawyers for the Legal Defense Network, hoping to build out an organization “so in any state where this happens, we’re in a position to provide election officials who are under siege with legal support.” Dozens already have signed on to the effort, with many more anticipated to join them soon, Mr. Becker said.

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