Voting Rights: A Round-Up of Some Online Resources
July 20 2021 | Committees
Voting rights and elections have been at the fore of recent news events. Qualifying recently ended for October 2021 municipal elections in New Orleans. Legislatures in nearby states have made national headlines with moves to enact new voting limitations, while federal voting rights bills languish in Congress. The U.S. Supreme Court recently interpreted the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to uphold voting restrictions enacted in Arizona. Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, No. 19–1257 (decided July 1, 2021). And, the Louisiana legislature is holding its first-ever veto session, with voting rights among the issues to be considered.
Considering these ongoing controversies on voting, we as lawyers may be asked from time to time to comment or provide informal advice on voting and election issues. Unless you are a specialist in election law, you are unlikely to have come across these issues in your day-to-day work. However, you may be able to find answers to many basic questions about elections and voting through some reputable online resources. Below is a brief snapshot of some of the information available as of July 2021:
- The Louisiana Secretary of State (www.sos.la.gov or www.geauxvote.com) is an excellent place to start any research into a Louisiana election issue. The Secretary maintains a robust website that provides information on how to register to vote and provides a link where potential voters may register online. The site also publishes information on how to become a candidate and on proper election administration. It also describes the current laws on poll watchers and answers many FAQs that might arise both before and after an election.
- The Orleans Parish Clerk of Criminal Court (www.opccdc.org) oversees the administration of elections in New Orleans. The clerk's website provides helpful information about becoming a poll commissioner and a poll commissioner handbook.
- The League of Women Voters of Louisiana (www.lwvofla.org) and its local New Orleans chapter, maintain a website with robust information regarding local elections and candidates. The League is a particularly good resource for information about ballots and candidates. Among other information, the League publishes a voter guide with candidates' responses to questions about how they are qualified and relevant to the particular office sought.
- If you are seeking a deeper dive into the current national voting controversies, the Brennan Center for Justice (www.brennancenter.org) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, affiliated with NYU, that works to protect voter rights and ensure fair districting, among other issues. The Center actively litigates voting rights matters and publishes reports and policy recommendations.
- Members of the military, their immediate families, and overseas citizens may find information about voting in federal elections through the Federal Voting Assistance Program (www.fvap.gov).
Any of these resources may a good starting point for questions relating to elections and voting.
Voting is an important civic responsibility, and as members of the bar we should encourage the members of our communities to educate themselves about candidates and to vote. In the words of the late John Lewis, "The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it."
J. Dalton Courson
Civil Rights Committee Chair
Stone Pigman Walther Wittmann L.L.C.
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