By now, you have likely been bombarded with information and advertising about the upcoming presidential election. You may find all of the information exhausting to wade through, or perhaps you're confused about the process. This is an urgent election, regardless of your choice of candidate, because of concerns over voting safely in person during a pandemic, concerns over getting your mail-in ballot in on time, concerns over voter suppression and disinformation campaigns. If you're concerned and tired, you have every right to be. And that's okay! We're tired too.
But Pennsylvania, already a swing state, is likely to be an instrumental battleground state this year, and one where all of these concerns are coming to the forefront. While there have been some excellent new provisions to ensure everyone has an opportunity to have their vote counted in PA, there are also some serious impediments still in place. Please let this guide serve to clarify the registration process, how to get involved, and make your vote count. And remember: the deadline to register to vote in Pennsylvania is October 19th, so if you haven't already registered, please do so as soon as possible. You can get started here.
Need another reason to vote? Look at how underrepresented your age bracket has been for over thirty years of voting!
We are having a national poll worker shortage problem. And Pennsylvania is no exception. This can cause major problems, including having polling locations being consolidated, which could cause longer lines, not to mention people having to travel greater distances to vote. The pandemic has contributed in major ways as well: health concerns for older individuals who may have normally been interested in volunteering to be poll workers, fears around voting in person increased by the possibility of overcrowding, proper spacing, PPE, etc. We need all hands on deck on this. Perhaps some of those hands are yours!
Law students are uniquely situated to be of serious significance to help out for reasons well-stated in this article, but we'd like to emphasize a main point here:
"Law students are in a particularly strong position to offer assistance as election workers because the analytical skills taught in law schools can be particularly helpful when difficult voter questions arise concerning provisional ballots or other complex procedures."
Did you know that Kline law students can receive pro bono credit for working at the polls on election day?
Students who wish to receive pro bono credit for their work as poll workers must:
All students who are selected by their counties to be poll workers will receive training from experts at the Voter Project as well as their county. Poll workers will also be provided with personal protective equipment.
Thanks to Yolanda D. Ingram, David S. Cohen, Amy Boss, Donna Gerson, Anil Kalhan, Sara Kulp, Analisa Goodmann, Brian Crooks, Emily Zimmerman, Rashida T. West, and Becka Rich.
Here's what some of the law faculty and staff have to say on the subject of voting: