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Presidential campaigns recruiting thousands of volunteer lawyers: NYT

[JURIST] The US presidential campaigns of both Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain [campaign websites] are recruiting large numbers of lawyers to monitor and protect voters' rights in the upcoming national election, according to a New York Times report [text]. The Obama camp initiated its Voter Protection Program [volunteer website] targeting lawyers and law students at the start of the campaign to promote voter education, and it will deploy the volunteers to the polls on election day. The McCain camp is likewise seeking [volunteer website] volunteer lawyers and law students to help during election day, and the campaign has also established a Lawyers for McCain [advocacy website] group. These campaign-specific efforts are in addition to nonpartisan efforts by groups such as Election Protection [volunteer website], which has already recruited 10,000 people and which actively seeks lawyers, law students, and paralegals to work election protection hotlines, gather voting irregularity data and to run voter protection programs. Such efforts to involve lawyers in the election process increased following the contested 2000 presidential election [Supreme Court oral argument transcript] that pitted now-president George W. Bush [official website] against former vice president Al Gore [personal website].

Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states had been removed from voter rolls [New York Times report; JURIST report] against federal voting law. That report added to growing controversy over voting laws and procedures in the run-up to November 2008 voting. In early October, both the Ohio Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official websites] rejected Republican challenges [JURIST report] to a directive by the Ohio secretary of state that would co-mingle absentee and regular ballots. Last month, voting rights advocates and elections officials expressed fears [JURIST report] that a lawsuit [complaint text, PDF; press release] brought by the Wisconsin Department of Justice [official website] will effectively disenfranchise thousands of voters there by causing chaos at the polls in November. Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen [official profile] filed suit against the state's Government Accountability Board [official website], seeking to force the elections agency to cross-check the identities of recently registered voters against names in other state databases pursuant to the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) [FEC materials].

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