Attorneys across Ohio Help Communities and Process on Election Day
By Csaba Sukosd | November 3, 2020
It's arguably the most important day every four years in the United States, and Ohio lawyers were at the center of it.
Attorneys across the state assisted at the polls, helping with the most fundamental civic right on Election Day as part of an Ohio Supreme Court initiative.
"Being a Black woman myself, and just hearing stories from my grandmother about having to literally study to take tests to be able to vote in Birmingham, Alabama, being able to cast your vote has always been something I've not taken for granted," said Keesha Warmsby, a Columbus-based attorney and one of many first-time Election Day volunteers this year.
In July, Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor asked lawyers to act. Anticipating a significant decrease in poll workers because 61% of volunteers are 65 or older, and fall into a high-risk category for COVID-19, the Supreme Court issued an administrative order offering four hours of continuing legal education credit to any attorney - not including judges or magistrates - to serve as poll workers on Election Day.
"I remember reading about it and immediately texting my lawyer friends. And I think a lot of us attorneys really took to heart what she said, and I appreciate her for saying it," said attorney and former Supreme Court employee Anna Sanyal
Others in the legal profession also were inspired to receive that kind of encouragement from the state's premier jurist. Court staff members who aren't attorneys utilized their expertise and training to add their support to the voting process.
"Anytime you do anything in public service, there's just a pride that comes through, and other people notice that," said Supreme Court assistant deputy clerk Jodi Schneider, who speaks from her experience of volunteering for the seventh time on Election Day.
Leading up to the big day, volunteers were required to train online and in person. During those sessions, they quickly learned the intricacies needed to execute something that seems straightforward, but has numerous nuances. That duality reminded the attorney volunteers of the legal realm, and was an emphasis of how just how valuable lawyers are to their communities and democracy.
"This is what we're suited to do, and so I feel very empowered that this is right thing to do. This is what I should be doing. We should be giving back and serving the day," said attorney Bonnie Wolf.