As election workers brace for upcoming vote, ABA establishes initiative

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Benson to be special guest of ABA tour

With the nation’s midterm elections around the corner, proactive measures to ensure a safe and secure vote are sprouting up across the country.

To raise the profile of the state and local election administrators behind these efforts, the American Bar Association Section of State and Local Government Law has established an initiative that will kick off this week at the ABA 2022 Annual Meeting.

“Defending Democracy” will celebrate the citizens who conduct the vote in their jurisdictions despite the disinformation campaigns, potential cybersecurity attacks and event partisan excoriation surrounding them, organizers say.

“A Bird’s-eye Vantage Point of Defending Democracy” takes place on Thursday at the Swissotel Chicago.

Elizabeth Yang, president of WStrong LLC, is chair of the section’s newly formed Election & Voting Rights Committee. She will moderate the program on the new initiative with a panel of frontliners who will discuss what they are doing to prepare for the challenges that are expected in the 2022 elections.

William Kreese, associate professor at Governors State University and commissioner at the Chicago Board of Elections, will share preparations in the Windy City.

Recent polls suggest that about 40 percent of Americans lack confidence in the election system, Kreese said, attributing a large part of the decline to “misinformation and disinformation” about the 2020 presidential vote.

With such negative sentiment, recruitment of election workers across the country has been more difficult than usual.

Election administrators do not have “easy jobs,” explained Yang, noting the rising threat of violence against them – and their families.

“Physical threats do not make people want to do this type of work,” she said. But “without them, we would not have a democratic process.”

The “Defending Democracy” campaign intends to shine a light on those who are weathering the difficulties on the frontline.

The initiative will also educate on work to dismantle the myths of election fraud – of which ABA members can help, Kreese said.

If more lawyers learn about the election process and the controls, procedures and protocols that are in place to ensure the results of an election are “true and reliable,” they could help spread the message.

“If an attorney hears somebody going off about how fraudulent our elections are, the attorney will hopefully speak up,” Kreese said.

If you hear someone allege fraud, “call them on it,” he said. “Say: What do you particularly know? Because if you don’t, you’re just spreading rumors.”

Other panelists will include Cynthia Swann, president & CEO of Swann Group Global and David A. Wheeler, partner, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg, LLP, Chicago.

On a related note, small group of ABA members will tour the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners on Friday, August 5, with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson as a special guest.


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