chevron-down Created with Sketch Beta.

Voice of Experience

Voice of Experience Archives

Defending Democracy and the Rule of Law in Our Electoral Process

Elizabeth M Yang

Defending Democracy and the Rule of Law in Our Electoral Process Rosati

Jump to:

Lawyers are trained to be leaders. We're uniquely positioned to work toward solutions. We must lead the way in promoting civics, civility, and collaboration — the cornerstones of our democracy — to restore confidence in our institutions.  - ABA President Deborah Enix-Ross

The Problem: Our communities are facing challenges that have legal solutions.

The Solution: Support ABA Giving Day – Thursday, October 27th – to help communities build a more democratic, equitable, and just society.

ABA Giving Day features 17 programs and entities, including the State and Local Government Law Section (SLGS)’s Defending Democracy Initiative. The Initiative seeks to educate the public about the very real impact of attacks on our election administrators. These unfounded attacks only serve to denigrate and cast aspersions on the integrity of our electoral process. The important work of our election administrators ensures the continued success of our democracy as well as the operation of our elections according to the rule of law. Defending Democracy seeks to create more awareness of and transparency about the election administration process as a means of bolstering public confidence in our democratic process.

We live in interesting times. The norm is becoming very far from what we expect in many aspects of our lives, especially our electoral process. We are seeing a disturbing trend to excoriate and threaten the physical safety of election administrators and their families if the outcome of an election does not have a desired result. Recently the Brennan Center for Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts have published reports and findings that these threats are also impacting the ability of our elections to run smoothly due to attrition resulting from these threats and verbal abuse. In fact, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, during her keynote address for SLGS’s 2022 Jefferson Fordham Awards Luncheon, remarked, “[t]hey [these threats] are dangerous for our democracy, likely to lead to violence, and they are pushing seasoned election officials with decades of knowledge out of the field.”

Held in conjunction with the National Celebration of Pro Bono – a time that recognizes the collective power of legal services – ABA Giving Day and the SLGS’ Defending Democracy Initiative provides opportunities to 1) educate the public about the important role that election workers play in ensuring that our voting process works best for all our citizens when public safety can be ensured; 2) promote an understanding that the average election worker is non-partisan when carrying out their work, 3) reaffirm the integrity of and public trust in our electoral process; and finally, 4) ensure adequate protection and a sense of security for election workers who are on the frontlines of our democracy.

Defending Democracy raises public confidence in our democratic process through educational programming and by creating a window, for all to view, into the work of state and local election administration. Since the 2022 ABA Annual Meeting we have hosted a CLE program and tours of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners (August 2022) and the Multnomah County Elections Division (October 2022). We have been welcomed by each election authority. Local election administrators welcome public viewing of their policies and procedures and we are happy to share the transparency of the process with one and all. In fact, at our most recent tour in Oregon, the first state to mandate all-mail voting, a participant remarked that they are sold on the security of mail ballots after seeing the procedures and safeguards used in Multnomah County. It is also interesting to note, leaders of all political parties in Oregon support vote by mail, or VBM as they like to call it, because the practice has been in place since 1998 officially, and provisionally since 1981 in local elections at the discretion of each locality. Simply put, there is no partisan divide on VBM in Oregon.

Preview the ABA Giving Day homepage at and support SLGS’s Defending Democracy Initiative now or on October 27th. Join us as we work to defend our democracy and the rule of law in our electoral process.