Law students at the forefront of election protection efforts in Pennsylvania

As a long and contentious campaign season enters its final days, University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School students are volunteering their time and skills to ensure the integrity of the 2020 presidential election.

Person seated at a table with laptop wearing a face mask is taking an ID from a person standing before them, a polling place with a VOTE sign and American Flag pictures on the wall.

With the COVID-19 crisis still pummeling the country, Americans may face more obstacles to exercising the franchise this year than ever before, particularly as mail-in voting has become a target for disinformation campaigns.

Moreover, while retirees typically serve as poll workers, the pandemic will keep many from serving in this role as they rightfully stay home to protect their own health. Enter younger law students who do not live with immunocompromised family to work the polls in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.

“I signed up to do in-person voter protection work on Election Day,” says Aseem Chipalkattti who will be serving as a nonpartisan poll observer, “because I know—especially these days—that protecting the fundamental right to vote in the U.S. needs more than mere words, but action.”

Rhochelle Krawetz, who will also be volunteering as an observer, agreed.

“I’ll be working the polls this year because the pandemic is presenting our democracy with unprecedented challenges,” she says. “So many of the basic freedoms I’ve studied in my Constitutional Law classes depend on every American being able to vote in fair elections, and I want to make sure they can.”

Students who prefer to contribute from a safe distance are volunteering with nonpartisan organizations like Common Cause to monitor and respond to disinformation on social media or using their legal training to staff voter assistance hotlines. The Law School’s Democracy Law Project is helping connect many students with a variety of in-person and remote opportunities to protect the vote while also logging hours that will count towards the pro bono requirement.

Read more at Penn Law News.