Law Students Answer the Call for Democracy

In the wake of the 2000 voting controversy in Florida, there was increased activity in front and behind the scenes on Election Day as independent groups organized to insure that the voting process went as smoothly as possible. Among those aiding the process were UGA law students. A group of 25 Georgia Law students united with a non-partisan effort coordinated by the Election Protection Program, a national coalition of over 300 organizations, whose main objective is voter education with the goal of limiting disenfranchisement with the electoral process.

UGA Law students were stationed at voting precincts in DeKalb and Fulton counties, where they expected an increased likelihood of voter disenfranchisement. Third-year law student Michael Caplan, who organized the law school volunteers, said students were able to assist polling officials with numerous issues. Some of the help they provided included working with late registrants who were not fully in the system, aiding those with a disability or language problem, helping voters who did not have proper identification and, to a lesser extent, voter harassment and intimidation. The law students and volunteers from other organizations “manning the polls” through the Election Protection Program also had a list of local attorneys to call for clarification on any issues as well access to a national hotline. “We wanted to make sure as many people as possible got to cast a ballot,” Caplan said.