November 27, 2019 Civic Engagement

Senior Lawyers are Critical to Running Our Election

You can make a difference.

By John Hardin Young

On Election Day (voting in person or through early voting when permitted), we, the people, will choose our elected leaders. The process involves more than a hundred thousand polling places. A unique aspect of American democracy is that elections are locally run. 

While state and county/city boards of election exist to set policy and acquire the voting apparatus, the real work on Election Day is conducted at the precinct level by local volunteer citizens. Critical to the electoral process are election judges, also known as poll judges, or polling officials, without whom the election cannot go forward. Each jurisdiction provides the necessary training, which usually takes less than a half day. 

Election judges ensure that the polls open on time, register voters, distribute ballots or access codes to machines, address problems, close the polls and transmit the results. Without them the election would not happen.

America is facing a crisis in the number of people volunteering to serve as election officials. Senior lawyers can alleviate this crisis. Seniors have the experience and judgment to serve as election officials. The commitment of time is minor, the personal reward is great, and the benefit to democracy is priceless.

See you at the polls as an election official? Call or email your Board of Elections Office today to be an election official.


John Hardin “Jack” Young is an Adjunct Professor of International & Comparative Election Law at William & Mary School Law, a Senior Global Election Dispute Resolution Advisor,  Managing Director of the Center the Mediation of Electoral Disputes, and Senior Counsel at Sandler Reiff in Washington, D.C. He is  also  the Chair of the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Election Law,  editor and contributor to International Election Principles: Democracy and the Rule of Law (ABA Press 2008), and an author of  Alternative Dispute Resolution Mechanisms (with David Kovick) in Guidelines for Understanding, Adjudicating, and Resolving Disputes in Elections (IFES 2011). He is also the editor of International Election Remedies (ABA Press 2016). He is a former member of the American Bar Association Board of Governors, and a former Chair of the ABA Section of Administrative Law & Regulatory Practice and ABA Senior Lawyers Division. He is a Life Fellow of the American Bar Foundation and a Life Member of the American Law Institute.