Note: Monday was Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, so this message is being sent Tuesday morning.
“The vote is precious. It is almost sacred. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy.” – Congressman John Lewis
“We do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson
In just 6 days, Monday, October 5, Ohio voter registration ends. See Election Truth: Ohio Voter Registration. In just
34 days, we elect the President of the United States.
As our nation continues to anguish from the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and countless other Black people before and after them, a crucial part of any effective response lies in ensuring safe and accessible voting, accompanied by the assurance that our elections will be conducted and votes will be counted with nonpartisan integrity. This is expected to be a major issue in tonight’s historic Presidential Debate in Cleveland.
Voter anxiety is amplified by those who make baseless and reckless claims about widespread voter fraud despite strong evidence to the contrary and bipartisan assurances from elections officials across the nation that the system is safe. See Election Truth: Vote By Mail, The Facts About Mail-In Voting and Voter Fraud, and The Myth of Voter Fraud
That’s why our Racial Justice Community Conversations Work Group sponsored last week’s excellent Racial Discrimination in Voting Community Conversation, and why our Racial Justice Public Action Work Group is sharing upcoming on-campus opportunities to sign up to serve as a poll worker. Voter registration will also be available at these tables, which are sponsored by CSU’s Office of Civic Engagement. Please visit our C|M|LAW Library’s Voting Resource Guide for more information about voting and volunteering in this year’s election.
We encourage our students, staff, and faculty to serve as a poll worker or a poll observer on Election Day. By University policy, all students who volunteer on Election Day are entitled to mandatory excused absences from classes that day provided they comply with the Poll Worker Excused Absence Policy set forth in our Student Handbook.
Poll workers are essential to running elections. Safe and accessible in-person voting is essential, and that requires large numbers of dedicated poll workers who will deliver accurate, accessible, secure, elections for their fellow Ohioans. With more than 65% of Ohio poll workers being age 61 or over, there is a very serious concern that many may choose not to serve this November due to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on older populations. So the need for high quality poll workers is dire. As a poll worker, you'll receive training and be paid for your day of service on Election Day. To volunteer in Cuyahoga County, please use this link.
Poll observers are also very important. Each major party is entitled by law to appoint one official observer for every polling location, to be the parties' eyes and ears and make sure elections are properly administered. Observers receive significant training, and observing is a great opportunity to be of service to an important cause and to meet lots of like-minded law students and lawyers.
To volunteer as a poll observer for the Democratic Party, click this link.
To volunteer as a poll observer for the Republican Party, click this link.
I know something about the power of one vote. In 1990 I was elected Ohio Attorney General in the closest statewide election in Ohio history. My margin is easy to remember: 1,234 votes out of 3.4 million votes cast, less than one vote per precinct, earning me the nickname, “Landslide Lee.” Under Ohio law, there was an automatic recount, and 6 weeks later, I was declared the winner.
But although I was sworn in on January 14, 1991, my opponent, State Senator Paul Pfeifer, filed a lawsuit contesting the election. On March 11, 1991, the Ohio Supreme Court, in an opinion written by Chief Justice Thomas Moyer, ruled unanimously that I could unpack my boxes. In re Election of November 6, 1990 for the Office of Attorney General of Ohio, 58 Ohio St.3d 103.
Woody Allen once said, “80 percent of success is showing up.” The next President of the United States will be determined by those who show up.
Monday Moment: The City Club of Cleveland is partnering with our local library systems to present - Five Days for Democracy - a week dedicated to reminding us why democracy matters and our role in keeping it strong.
Stay safe. Stay healthy. Stay Committed to Living Justice.
Have a great day. Have a great week.
For copies of past messages, please go to this link: Monday Morning Messages.
My views in all my Monday Morning Messages are my personal views alone and do not reflect the views of our law school or our university.
Dean, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law | Cleveland State University
Joseph C. Hostetler-BakerHostetler Chair in Law