YLS Rule of Law Clinic publishes guides to protect voters from intimidation

Students from the Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic (ROLC) at Yale Law School, in conjunction with Campaign Legal Center (CLC), have published comprehensive guides for key states to protect the rights of voters and prevent voter intimidation ahead of the November 3, 2020 election.

ROLC students developed the guides, which were published on CLC’s DemocracyU website. The guides offer a full range of information on federal and state laws and resources protecting voters from intimidation, including rules on electioneering, polling place conduct, observers, firearms, law enforcement, mask mandates, and similar topics. They also provide examples of illegal tactics, and points of contact if voters experience intimidation. Guides are available for Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

“Developing these guides made clear the full range of legal protections provided to voters so that they can cast their ballots without fear,” said Alex Boudreau ’21, a Clinic member. “We hope these guides will prove useful as voters exercise their rights this election cycle, and beyond.”

Read the Guides: Protecting Voters from Intimidation

Concern about voter intimidation is high in advance of the election, given the tense national political environment and threats, rhetoric, and aggressive activity from some political groups and actors. There have already been a number of incidents reported at early voting sites across the country, according to those working on this issue. 

However, federal law and laws in every state offer strong protection to voters against intimidation, threats, and harassment, as the guides show. State laws also generally require election officials to maintain a safe and orderly voting environment. The guides are intended to make sure that voters and advocates are aware of the rights and protections provided by law, so that they can exercise their right to vote freely, safely, and privately.

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“The law is unambiguous: every American has the right to vote free from intimidation and harassment,” said Danielle Lang ’12, Co-Director of Voting Rights & Redistricting at CLC. “As these guides explain, state and local election officials have a duty to ensure a safe environment for voters at the polls.”

Students developed the state-by-state guides in partnership with Lang and CLC. CLC advances democracy through law, fighting for every American’s right to participate in the democratic process. The organization uses tactics such as litigation, policy advocacy, communications and partnerships to win victories that result in a more transparent, accountable and inclusive democracy. CLC’s DemocracyU website provides toolkits and information to voters and community members participating in the democratic process.

Yale Law School students and Rule of Law Clinic members Pirzada Ahmad ’21, Alex Boudreau ’21, Lisa Chen ’21, Kate Hamilton ’22, Laura Pietrantoni ’21, Matthew Quallen ’21, and Georgia Travers ’21 worked on the guides. They were supervised by Lang and Hope Metcalf, Clinical Lecturer in Law and Executive Director of the Orville H. Schell, Jr. Center for International Human Rights.

The Yale Law School Peter Gruber Rule of Law Clinic addresses issues of national security, antidiscrimination, climate change, and democracy through litigation, policy advocacy, and strategic planning.

For additional information, please contact Alex Boudreau at alex.boudreau@ylsclinics.org.


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