Statement of Laurel Bellows, President, American Bar Association Re: An Election Too Important To Sit Out
This election may be the most consequential in recent memory. Candidates for public office at every level of government have offered their plans to address the lingering effects of the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression and diverging visions of our nation’s future. The security and welfare of our families, the safekeeping of liberty, and the maintenance and promotion of the rule of law at home and abroad will be decided by free Americans pulling levers, tapping touch screens and affixing stamps to mail-in ballots on and before November 6.
The American Bar Association urges every eligible voter to exercise his or her franchise. Representative democracy invests responsibility for the public good with individuals, and this election offers voters very real choices that will, by all accounts, be decided by paper-thin margins. In addition to the presidential, congressional and gubernatorial races, state constitutional amendments and referenda on issues ranging from judicial independence to marriage equality are on the ballot. This election is too important to sit out.
We believe that lawyers bear a special responsibility to serve their communities and nation on Election Day. The ABA’s Lawyer as Citizen initiative encourages lawyers to volunteer to serve as official nonpartisan poll workers. In four easy steps through the new ABA Vote website, lawyers and anyone interested in assisting their fellow citizens can find information on how to become a poll worker. The ABA Vote website is also a resource to help voters find their polling place, aid uniformed service members and those living abroad vote absentee and provide teachers free lesson plans that encourage civic responsibility.
Voter registration and identification are deeply divisive issues in our nation. Unfortunately, some individuals who are qualified to vote may be turned away from their polling place. Democracy operates best when voters understand their rights and responsibilities on Election Day. The ABA encourages employers, community leaders, teachers and election officials to print and display the Association’s nonpolitical, easy-to-understand voter rights and responsibilities fact card.
More than two centuries after our nation shrugged the yoke of monarchy and nearly a century after the right to vote was finally promised to every American regardless of his or her race or gender, our democracy remains—as it was designed to be—a work in progress. This election is a choice, not just to fill public offices, but a choice in the hands of voters to continue our experiment in representative government. As the voice of the legal profession, the ABA insists on fair and transparent elections so that voters can insist on fair and transparent government.
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