About 50 people participated in Election Protection training on October 23 at the Brown School.
Denise Lieberman, senior attorney and co-program director for the Voter Protection Program at the Advancement Project, led the nonpartisan training to prepare volunteers for the November 6 election.
She also updated them on a new change in Missouri election law. The day before the training, a Missouri judge ruled that state election officials could no longer tell voters they must show a photo ID in order to cast a ballot. The ruling blocks part of Missouri’s voter identification law.
A constitutional and civil rights lawyer, Lieberman works to advance broad voter protection initiativesnationwide, engaging in policy analysis, lobbying, legal advocacy, litigation and community building to advance electoral reform.
Election Protection volunteers assist citizens on Election Day if they encounter problems voting. The volunteers are the first line of defense against suppression tactics, confusing laws, outdated infrastructure and other impediments to casting ballots.
“Our goal is simple: Every eligible voter is able to cast a ballot on Election Day,” Lieberman told the group. The volunteers also track voter experiences to identify obstacles and trends for future advocacy.
The volunteer poll monitors ideally work a three-hour shift on Election Day. They are required to be nonpartisan in their interactions with voters, to be outside of the polls only, and to offer no legal advice.
They are “community members serving their neighbors,” Lieberman said.
The Center for Social Development’s Voter Access & Engagement initiative sponsored the training. Co-hosts were West County Community Action Network and Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice.
Poll monitors distribute voter rights cards, answer voter questions, help voters resolve issues and ask voters about their experience voting. Many voters, for example, are unaware of voting rules or changes, and the volunteers can help to inform them.
The poll monitors are not alone but armed with a hotline number to a command center, 1-866-OUR-VOTE or text “Election Protection” to 97779, where volunteer lawyers and law students who know Missouri election law are waiting. Anyone with questions is welcome to call.