tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN August 9, 2021 1:04pm-2:31pm EDT
lawmakers work on the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. there is no up to 30 hours of debate meeting on the bill until the final passage vote. if all the time is used and not yield back, the final vote would be 3:11 a.m. eastern time tuesday morning and you can watch the senate live now on c-span2. >> next, a look at voting rights and the impact of voter suppression with california senator alex padilla who famously oversaw state elections as california's former secretary of state.
>> alex padilla attended public schools and is a graduate of m.i.t. and earned a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. after graduating from m.i.t., he joined the telephone -- the l.a. city council. he provided citywide leadership at a critical time including serving as acting mayor during the tragedy of september 11. he was elected to the state senate in 2006 to represent the more than 1.1 million people in the san fernando valley. he passed more than 70 bills
including landmark legislation to combat climate change as well as one of sacramento's first -- most effective laws. the first letter to ne-yo secretary of state was reelected in 2018, receiving the most votes of any latino elected official in the united states. the secretary of state, he worked to make our elections more accessible while fighting to protect the integrity of our voting system. as california's junior u.s. senator, whose chairman of the judiciary subcommittee on education and border safety and serves as a member of the senate committees on budget, environment and public works. homeland security and and more. thank you senator padilla for
your service, leadership and for joining us today. >> hello, i am senator alex padilla and i have the honor of representing california in the united states senate. thank you for inviting me to open this critical discussion on the fight for voting rights. thank you to today's panel for sherry your expertise. america's free and fair elections are the bedrock of our democracy but today, they are under attack. republican state legislatures have proposed or passed more than 400 voter suppression measures this year alone. as we have seen too many times before, this attack on voting rights is rooted in white supremacy. civil rights leaders have fought for more than 200 years to expand access to the ballot box. it's the nations it proudest traditions but since the earliest days of reconstruction, we have seen how whites missy
rears its head when communities of color make their voices heard in our election. today, cynical politicians are spreading false claims of voter fraud for their own political advantage. the countries rejection of a white supremacist resins, a president who embraced hate, distinct democracy and incited a deadly insurrection in our very capital has given rise to a voter suppression drive by republican state legislatures across the country. it's time to reject these attempts once again. we need to set a strong national standard for voting rights. we need to and partisan gerrymandering and we need to reform our campaign-finance system so that a few large corporations and the wealthiest families in america cannot drown out the voices of millions of voters. the issue of voting rights is personal to me.
before i entered the senate, i served as california's secretary of state. i was the chief elections officer for our nation's most populous and most diverse democracy. in california, we've already implemented many reforms like automatic voter registration, expanded early voting and vote by mail. we know that these reforms work. in 2020, california set modern records for voter registration and voter turnout despite the covid-19 pandemic. i am proud to support the for the people act in the john lewis voting rights advancement act to bring innovation to be used to every voter and prevent discrimination at the ballot box. protecting our democracy and expanding voting rights with bipartisan support among the american people.
unfortunately, republicans in the nations capital and estate houses across the country, have shown repeatedly that they value their party more than our democracy. we cannot let senate republicans use the filibuster to obstruct congress or their allies in state legislatures attacked the integrity of our elections. we must put every ounce of our being into ensuring that our democracy is as free, as fair and as accessible to all americans as we can possibly make it. the legal profession has a critical role to play in stopping voter suppression efforts. i call on you, listening to this discussion, to ask what role you can play in the fight for our democracy. we need your talent and training to defend access to the ballots. we need your work to make the rule of law a reality for all american. as lawyers, you service
counselors of the court, working to advance justice. it's critical that each of you stand against the big lie and those who would abuse the law for their own and. i want to thank you for your partnership in strengthening our democracy because the stakes are too high to give up the fight. the future of our democracy is on the line. >> welcome, everyone thank you senator padilla for that terrific introduction on this vigorous instruction by our panel of voting rights. i am president and general counsel of the legal defense and education fund a legal organization whose mission is to promote the rights of all latinos living in the united states. we have a tremendous panel of experts ready to discuss what is a watershed moment for voting
rights. this year perhaps more than any in existence, we have seen for even the casual observer of american politics from a juxtaposition of the issue of voting rights and encouraging access to the vote, the issue of election fraud. this is been throughout our history but it's at a particular point in 2021. as you are all aware, we follow residential elections with the greatest number of voters in her history last year and the highest turnout of eligible voters since 1900. also saw at the beginning of this year, much contention about the outcome about elections including an unprecedented introduction -- insurrection. it was to prevent the
certification of the vote, resulting in the election of joe biden as president of the united states. there was an unprecedented number of proposals to change the way elections are run in our states. some of these changes are proposed to facilitate greater participation but many of them are designed to change the way we conduct elections to make it more difficult to participate in future elections. the same time, while the states go about their work in a federal democracy, congress is considering two important pieces of federal legislation that would use constitutional laws on election laws. these would potentially change how we change elections from state to state.
there is no question this has been a contentious year already and we are only way through -- only halfway through. all of this coincides with redistricting years we are waiting the data from the census bureau. in some cases, legislators are considering election legislation and in other places, its local elections but we will see the census data redrawing the districts not just for congress but the state legislatures and local bodies around the country. those new lines will pick take whatever voters will face not just as the access to the ballot but what we see. senator padilla has suggested our panel has a lot to discuss today. we welcome all of you and thank you for joining us in this
presentation. we will hear from our three guests. we will hear from john yang, followed by bill and then cheryl. [inaudible] john yang is the president and executive director of asian america's injustice group, one of the leading organizations that works to promote civil-rights of asian americans in our democracy, doing important work. we will then hear from phil crescent. he is a member of the three-person chicago board of elections commissioner and associate professor at the college business billing state university in illinois. finally, sherilyn is the
director to the council of our nations oldest legal organization focusing on racial justice, an incredible component of that is the issue of voting rights and access to ballots. sherilyn is the resident and director of the naacp legal defense fund. we will first hear from each of them and then we will have a broader discussion with me as your moderator about some of the issues the area of voting we face in 2021. i first turn to john yang. >> thank you very much for organizing this and really bringing up this important discussion. certainly, in this moment, our democracy is under attack in many ways when we talk about voting and it's critical we have a frank conversation about this franchise of voting. let me first ground it in what we see in the american --
asian-american community. we can offer what we are seeing on the ground, what we are seeing in terms of attacks on voting and how we should collectively talk about these issues and getting to a space where we expand the franchise of democracy and not diminishing it. the asian-american community, it's important to recognize how quickly our community has grown over the last 20 years. if you go back to 1965 to the senses, the asian-american community was only half -- one half of 1% of the entire population of the united states. the final 2020 census numbers are not out but we expect that number will be over 7% or somewhere around there. we are talking about over 22 million asian americans and we talk about the voting eligible population, that has just about doubled and over in the last 20 years.
back in 2000, asian americans only represented about 5 million of the eligible voters in the united states. now in 2020, we are talking over 11 million eligible voters in the united states. one thing to recognize is when we talk about the asian-american community, it includes a rich diversity of different communities which have over 50 different nationalities represented, over 100 languages represented. there predominant numbers in the population but there are many other populations whether it's burmese or cambodian that we need to talk about as well. it's also important to recognize that for the asian-american community, our community is a newer community. if you look at our demographics, over two thirds of the committee are foreign-born. over 90% of our population were
either born into a different country where they are children of people born in different countries. what does that mean? when you talk about air asian-american community, one of the frequent issues we will have is what we called limited english proficiency. about a third of the population does not speak english as their first language or we are not particularly fluent navigating it. about three out of four asian americans speak a different language at home which emphasizes this point. i think we would all agree that simply because we don't speak english at home, simply because english is not your language in which you are the most fluent, doesn't make you less of a citizen most what we are talking about with voting rights, that's one bedrock rentable for asian americans. second principle we have to recognize is that asian americans span a wide variety of
socio-and economic classes. one of the myths of the asian-american community is that we are well all well-to-do from socioeconomic factors and we are doing well. that's simply not the case. there are asian americans doing well but there are many that are not similar to many other communities, we struggle to make it at the ballot box. if you have a poll it's only open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., we would not be able to make it to the polls. when they did -- when we did a survey, probably 25% of our voters did not participate in voting because they had a scheduled conflict or something else in terms of work preventing them from getting to that ballot box. the second thing we know from survey data is that asian americans do prefer mail-in ballots. approximately 64% of our population preferred that as a means of voting.
that manifested itself in the 2020 election where we saw asian americans choose that option of mail in ballots where it was available above the norm for other race and ethnicities. in georgia, proximally 40% of asian americans voted by mail during that election which is significantly higher than other populations and that was true for the runoffs as well. we saw a similar effect in arizona were male and very are widely available but asian americans there also chose that option as their predominant option. i think it's important to understand how we access the polls and the issues we have accessing the polls. number one is language. we have restrictions which restrict our ability to bring sisters of our choice if we are denied linkage access, if ballots in a -- are not
bilingual. we will see a reduction in the number of asian-american voters. if we have a place where the ability to access mail-in ballots has a larger number of polling places, the ability to have wider polling hours, to participate, we will not see asian americans. that's the starting point as we talk about voting and what it means for asian americans. asian americans are growing faster in rural places whether it's in georgia, north carolina, nevada step as we think about
voting and were asian americans will be voting, we have to think beyond the normal herbal test urban centers. we need access to the ballot box and all these places and make sure our democracy lives up to its ideals to ensure that all citizens who are eligible have the ability to vote. i look forward to engaging in this discussion with my esteemed colleagues who i always enjoy working with. >> hello. cressick and i am on this panel unlike other panels who represent civil rights organizations, i am here for two reasons. as you heard in the introduction, i am one of the three commissioners on the chicago board of election commissioners. for over 100 years, elections and the city of chicago are conducted and managed by the chicago board of election commissioners. it is not part of the city of
chicago government. we are an independent ever mental entity created by the state legislature led by three commissioners, each one of us is selected by the judges of the circuit court of cook county, illinois, almost 300 of those judges and it's a bipartisan commission, no more than two can be of the same political party. so i am here as the person to represent those with boots on the ground. in the work done by election workers and by election administrators. to give you an idea, the city of chicago, we have over 2000 precincts on election day. on election day alone, we need 13,000 workers to work election day in addition to our usual
hundreds of workers who work for the chicago board. i have gotten to meet many election administrators from around the state and around the country and around the world. i would say that i have yet to meet one that doesn't want to have fair, free and open elections in the united states. unfortunately, we are the ones who are sometimes tagged with the problems that occur. both the administrators and the election workers. in the material they supply including the recent letter from the department of justice with regards to threats against election officials which is quite frankly very disturbing and very unfair. the other reason i think i am on this panel besides being an election administrator who can speak to the effect of the
various new laws and proposals out there is that my second job is as a professor. i am an attorney but i am not a professor of law. i'm a professor in the college of is this at governors state university, the state university of suburban chicago. my specialty is fraud examination. that's along with business law and forensic accounting and accounting. i am a cpa, i am a cpa who is certified in financial forensics and certified forensic accountant and a certified fraud examiner. i was named educator of the year by the board of certifiers. i know a little bit about fraud. you will hear this discussed so often with regards to election matters for about election fraud.
i include voter suppression in with election fraud. as far as i'm concerned, it's a type of fraud. not only am i a professor, i'm known as professor fraud. that is the title that i've been given and might registered it as a trademark. i grew up in chicago. if you want to talk about election fraud, i can talk about it. i have seen it and i know about it step i'm happy to report that in recent years, the incidences of election fraud are nothing like the stories of the past. i do note that one of my favorite books on elections, five dollars m of porkchops sandwich written by dr. mary frances berry, has an entire
chapter on election fraud in chicago, of course it does. i was a law clerk to a federal judge in chicago and we saw election cases come through the federal words as well. i am someone who can talk about election fraud and talk about forensic audits which is a term that's been kicked around in the news lately. i'm not sure the people who use that term understand what it is but in the materials i have and it may be drawing on my academic background, i have articles, some materials about risk limiting audits and the idea of information asymmetry. one of the big problems we see in the country right now is the problem of information asymmetry, where we have the government with a small g
controlling her election systems and controlling how they are designed and controlling the reports and the voters not knowing and not trusting the information, the reports they get. i also included some surveys that showed before the november 2020 election, over 40% of voters from both parties felt that if their candidate lost, there was some sort of election fraud. that's unfortunate and that's in addition to the one half of voters who don't show up to vote because in part, they don't trust the system. we have a big problem with the distrust of the election system. there are however, ways of fixing that. there is information about risk limiting audits and i would suggest that if we look at an
analogy in the financial markets, ringing in outside independent experts much like the financial markets bring in cpas to audit the systems of internal control and the financial reports of corporations, we can do something to increase the trust in our election system. today, we want to concentrate on justice, really, and civil rights and making sure that all of our elections are fair, free and open and that all of our voters have a chance to vote fairly and make sure their vote is cast properly. thank you. >> hello, i am thrilled to be a part of this important conversation to day especially i want to shout out to my dear friend tom who really is such a heavyweight and intellect in
this space particularly around voting litigation and we rely on his big brain and i'm thrilled he was willing to convene us all to talk and i'm thrilled to also join my friend john and william, i think is the first time we are on a panel together. i cannot imagine a more important moment to be talking about the issue of voting and so on and i'm so glad and i am so hopeful that many people are signed up for this particular session. when thurgood marshall, who founded the legal defense fund and later became the first lack supreme court justice, was asked after his retirement from the bench, what was his most important case. it was kind of a rhetorical question. everyone expected marshall to answer brown v. board of education, the case that begin
the end of jim crow, that really changed the direction of american democracy in the 20th century that is responsible for the lives that many of us have been able to lead by turning america away from an apartheid state. he said there is a case he successfully litigated in the supreme were in 1944. it was a case out of texas challenging the all-white primary election. why did marshall regard this as his most significant case? it's because he believed that providing the opportunity for black people who were, at that time, held as second-class citizens, but tickly in the south and largely disenfranchise, that opening up lytic power and opportunity and
participation for black people was a critical ticket to full citizenship step full citizenship was a focus of thurgood marshall and is the focus of the legal defense fund because that is the guarantee in that first line of the 14th amendment -- the birthright citizenship that was designed to overturn dred scott and ensure that black people and those who were free who had been sexually rendered by the dred scott decision would be full citizens of this country. there are many rights and privileges associated with citizenship but most of us regard the ability to vote and participate in the political process as near the top of those indicators of citizenship. therefore, when the right to vote is threatened against citizens who are eligible to vote, we have not just a civil rights problem.
we have not just a race problem but we certainly have those. we have a democracy problem. i think finally perhaps, over the last year, many americans have come to understand that the kind of voter suppression black voters have been subject to for many years is actually an indication of a deep corrosive flaw and cancer in american democracy. and what has been workshops on the black and latino populations, in terms of voter suppression now has metastasized and threatened the integrity of the american electoral system and therefore the integrity of american democracy. it's important for me to say this because, for many people, this appears to be something that arose out of nowhere. it did not. i hate to date myself but at this point, there is no point in
pretending. i joined the legal defense fund as a young lawyer after one year fellowship at the aclu. i graduated from law school and had a one year fellowship and then joined lbs step i started as a voting rights attorney. the people who trained me were two of the most brilliant minds in the voting rights litigation space. they steeped me in understanding the significance and power of the voting rights act and i spent years litigating cases under the voting rights act, using section five of the act which is the preclearance provision that was getting federal authority t to change voting actions and the other which was to mitigate and sue on behalf of minority voters i brought many cases. fast forward to today and section five was essentially
gutted by the supreme court in the shelby county versus holder decision in 2013 and just two weeks ago, the supreme court powerfully weakened section two in thebernovich case. i believe it was president reagan called the crown jewel of civil rights statutes, this statute that we recognize as having been enacted at the cost of activism and beatings and death, medgar evers, the beating of john lewis and so many others who sacrificed for this important bill. this bill that is recognized as having freedom and enfranchise the black population of the south prior to the voting rights act in mississippi, only 6.7% of
like voters were registered to fight.after the percent. before the voting rights act, only 70% of white voters in mississippi were registered and after the voting rights act was enacted, 90% of white voters were registered. why is that important? it's important because when we expand the opportunity and access to vote for black voters, latino voters, asian-american voters, we actually expanded for all voters and that's good for democracy. likewise, when we suppress the vote, when we restrict access to voting black voters, latino voters, asian-american voters, disabled voters, elderly voters, student voters, we restricted for everyone and we threaten american democracy. this is the moment we are asked in this country why we are at this moment. we are at this moment because after this decision in 2013 and shelby county, the country
failed to understand that we were in a moment of democratic crisis. i say that because within hours of the decision, officials in texas were tweeting out their plan to pass a voter id bill that they had not been able to preclear because it clearly had a negative effect on black and latino voters. other states followed suit with voting laws that never would have passed muster under section five. there was a race to enact voter suppression laws. because those laws were being enacted in the south and in states that at that time were not regarded by the political pundits as swing states and because they were targeted at blacks and brown and asian-american voters, it was not a national story. and so it happened. in texas, we litigated in that case, the district court found that texas had not only violated
the voting rights act that had engaged in intentional discrimination. when north carolina passed its voter suppression bill, many would know the fourth circuit court of appeals described the bill as having been created with surgical precision to target black voters. this should have been a sign that our democracy was in peril because any effort to restrict voting for citizens who are eligible threatens democracy and now here we are in 2021. with a week and voting rights act and with a metastasized process emanating from the former president and the big lie in the effort after the 2020 election to discredit votes that were cast in places like detroit and philadelphia and atlanta, we now have states that are rushing, once again, to impose voter suppression bills. we have georgiasb 202.
we are suing and challenging that bill come a bill that was passed with incredible haste with onerous provisions that weakens early voting, that weakens absentee voting, that allows for unlimited challenges that any voter can challenge the legitimacy of any other voter. it turns over the ability to decide whose votes will be disqualified from local officials to partisan people appointed by the legislature and that cruelly criminalizes the distribution of food and water in line knowing the black voters stood in line up to eight hours and florida followed suit, adding the provision that restricts the provision of refreshments two people standing in line. and texas is teed up to do the same so here we are with something that is unraveling across the country and emma
moreover, we have the phenomenon that was just described, the lies about voter fraud. voter fraud is a myth that has been perpetuated to support voter suppression for decades now. in the hands and the mouth of the former president, it has become an article of faith. it is now being used to undergird the restrictions on the right to vote. this is a moment when we need to be grappling with this issue any we need to be seeing it framed as a democracy issue and therefore as an issue that challenges and undermines the integrity of our country and undermines the integrity of our electoral system and therefore undermines our legitimacy as a democratic country. it is an emergency that i hope people will now recognize and that more than those of us who do this work every day will be cleared to act. >> thank you and thank you all for your incredible
contributions. this is an opportune moment for our discussion. our discussion is hosted by the american bar association so i want to focus for a moment about the role of the courts in the voting arena. as sherilyn hasn't -- has reminded us, we had a sitting president who refused and continues to refuse to acknowledge the outcome that has been legitimate. he was running to courts, state court, federal court, seeking to overturn the outcome of ballots as presented by election officials. many including myself consider those attempts to be legitimate. here we are six months later and certainly we know that state legislation has been enacted or
will be enacted will end up in our court system is an extension of the voting rights act in establishing constitutional rights in the area. similarly, the federal legislation, if that is enacted, we can almost inevitably expect as we saw in the shelby county decision will challenge legislative authority in the area. with an eye onbernovich coming at the end of june, a big change potentially no challenges under the voting rights act to vote denial provisions. i want to ask each of you to talk about that courts
themselves are not particular democratic step even if the state level, we have elected judges. we don't have two candidates out there on the stone arguing that these should be made court judges. what is the proper role of judges in democracy? >> the role of the court to look at the evidence. here, with respect to the big lie, the courts did their job and looked at the evidence and overwhelmingly, they said there was no evidence. the problem that seems to be
evolving with respect to some of these restrictive, suppressive legislations is that the court is not looking at the evidence or giving weight to it. i find it interesting that in shelby county, among other things, it was suggested the evidence wasn't there or the need for police -- preclearance. yet the courts on the flipside are allowing some of these legislative hoses to go forth even though there was no true threat presented to election integrity or a massive threat with respect to elective fraud. that is one place i think the courts actually have a role is to look at the evidence. further to that is we go one step further and there is no evidence of massive fraud, no evidence this will actually
provide for greater election integrity. what is the harm that happens to our community. what is the effect? the talk -- the court talks about totality but what are the real circumstances that happened. it's had an effect on all of our communities. it's clear this results in a reduction of the number of voters, the reduction of the ability of people to cast votes. that's where i would start with respect to what the role of courts should be. they are not there to provide legislative fixes but they are there to validate evidence and that's where they need to think through how this is affecting communities. >> bill,? >> going to what was just said, the courts will look at evidence and rule on interpretation of
the law. the bernovich case brings up the idea of looking at the totality of the circumstances which compels it now, the lower courts to look at the evidence. it also states that voter fraud or trying to prevent it if the state has a compelling interest in that. let's look at the totality and let's weigh the burden of whatever the restrictions are as well. there are some changes that have been proposed. due to the pandemic, many states, illinois included made big changes in our election law in order to address the pandemic. now there are changes going back and forth. please look at the burdens on us that we don't have unlimited
resources but we want to have fair and open elections that everyone can participate in. the courts need to look at that but they also need to see, as john pointed out, the idea of the impact on communities out there if we make these changes, if we reduce the number of polling places, drop boxes, etc. maybe there is good reason to reduce the number of drop boxes for certain ballots. it can be very costly to maintain. on the other hand, if it causes a substantive reduction in voters, then the courts have to look at that evidence as well. i think we will be seeing the court now taking on a lot more ruling on the evidence cases that we saw before this latest supreme court decision. >> sherilyn?
the role of courts when it comes to democracy? >> there are courts and then there are courts. what i have seen is that the district court's actually have been looking at weighing the evidence. if we look at the district court opinion last year in our first pandemic remote trial which was the case involving the florida referendum in which the majority of florida voters wanted to inform the right to vote, the governor and legislature set about trying to undermine that. the court, after an extensive trial, weighed the evidence and determined that the actions to try to undermine the intention of that referendum actually violated the voting rights act and violated various provisions
of the constitution and it was carefully weighed, a pretty conservative judge by the way. our challenge in alabama last year to the restrictions on absentee voting, carefully weighed by the district court judge, 192 page opinion. it identified the ways in which black voters and disabled voters were being subjected, were unduly burdened by having to comply with the owners absentee voter requirements in alabama that put them at risk of covid infection. if you look at any number of these cases in which trial courts are dealing with these issues, you often find that trial judges are doing precisely what has been described which is weighing the evidence, determining what is the effect of moving drop boxes. it turns out moving drop boxes inside fx disabled voters.
it's doing precisely what section two of the voting rights act said you are supposed to do, engage in a searching, practical evaluation of the local dynamics. the totality of circumstances has standards. the supreme court decided it would countermand the senate's identification of relevant factors and identify its own relevant factors. those factors were not based actually on hard evidence that came through the process of having been evaluated by the district court. for example, justice alito in the majority opinion credited the states interest in voter fraud ran counter to almost every voting rights case that has been litigated over the past five years that has failed to demonstrate any evidence of widespread voter fraud. can the alabama case, the district court found the states
actions actually were not likely to reduce voter fraud. the idea that the supreme court would accept casually and without making reference to the overwhelming evidence that widespread voter fraud does not exist, that this would be the kind of interest that without way the kind of affects that john identified on voters of some of these voter suppression efforts is a kind of astounding. the role of courts is to have integrity in this phase. the role of words is to understand and execute the intention of the statute. i don't think there's any question about the what the intention of the voting rights act or what the senate's intention was in amending the voting rights act in 1982. when the senate amended it, it was to rebuke an earlier supreme court decision. congress is very clear and when you read the legislative history, you know that one of
the things that congress hope to get out because they were explicit was not only to address voting discrimination that existed at the moment that the statute was being managed, but to deal with future efforts at voter suppression and discrimination, ingenious methods that they might not be able to think of at that moment. they meant to actually have an expansive vision. they meant this act to be flexible and encompass any effort to try and restrict the rights of minority voters to participate in the political process. instead what we see is a prima court -- a supreme court decision in bernovich that put in place as a standard against which we should measure voter suppression measures in 2021. the role of courts is to walk with integrity in this space. you may disagree with justice alito or justice roberts with the amendments to the voting
rights act. they may disagree with this but you do not get to up and what we know as lawyers and litigators to be the proper order which is the supreme court is not the factfinder. the factfinder is the district court, or in the case of the voting rights act amendment, the factfinder was congress. it was congress's job to accumulate a record, which they did in 2020's -- 2006 and the supreme court felt they could just brush aside in 2013 in shelby county. i think we have an issue. i think you are asking an important question for us in the aba which is to be honest about what is happening in some of their courts and to recognize -- i taught law school for 20 years and i taught civil procedure. i know the difference between trial court and appellate court and i know what's supposed to happen. we all know. i think we need to have some of
those conversations that are not just about partisan politics but are about courts moving out of their lane and engaging in activities that really undercut the intention of statutes enacted by congress that have a really serious effect on the citizenship rights of millions of americans. >> you call that a couple of the most troubling aspects of the burn of it -- bernovich. it was troubling that majority seem to court so much attention to voter fraud and preventing voter fraud. there are some who would argue that voter fraud is nonexistent. the fact is, the chief kinds of voter fraud that was alluded to
was those who are ineligible going to the polls and second, those who were voting remotely being coerced by someone else to vote in a way they did not intend to vote. there is been precious little evidence of either of these signs of voter fraud. should there be limits on how much is done in the name of preventing that kind of voter fraud? there are two different kinds of voter fraud. >> writes, i will tell you, both of those forms of voter fraud occur and do exist. i can go into some stories and
i've got lots of them. i will date myself. i started voting in 1976. i worked polls, i have seen shenanigans going on. it does happen. is it widespread? no, but as i teach and fraud examination, fraud controls do not just detect fraud with they are there to prevent and deter fraud. people who change their mind think they can get away with it. those things do occur in small numbers. i can recite a few instances of that but the key is are the controls you're putting in place, are they effective to stop that sort of fraud? i like to say that you don't
wait until somebody has ransacked your house for her you put a lock on the door. on the other hand, you don't put locks on doors that lead to nowhere, there has to be some logic behind it. when you put in a control, is it effective at preventing or deterring the type of fraud you are trying to prevents? i fear that some of the proposals that are bubbling through state legislatures right now, the case to say that this somehow prevents or deters fraud is tenuous at best. some of them you can say that they would be an effective way of doing. very often, even those systems, you can have an alternative that doesn't prevent the legitimate
voter from voting and does allow that confidentiality or privacy in the ballot that we want. we can do these things. sometimes we have to be creative about it stop here in cook county in the past elections, the county clerks office that runs the voting in suburban cook county in the chicago board in the city, we placed for the first time, polling places, early voting polling places inside cook county jail. that way the pretrial detainees there can actually come down and not be in their cel filling out an absentee ballotl with who knows influencing that boat or in the day room with the guards looking over their shoulders and it was a wonderful young to see stop they could then vote in
privacy and get the privacy that you really go for in voting. what i loved is you saw a look on the faces of the detainees that they were being treated like human beings with human dignity. i think that is an important thing. but we can work these things out. there's no evidence of massive fraud, saying that does not mean we take away of the antifraud controls. but the antifraud controls have to show that they are in fact effective. so, i like looking at these things on a case-by-case basis. maybe it's a professor in me. -- the professor in me. but we can look at these things and consider them. i hope going forward litigation that the courts will look at that standard, that just because there's no evidence of massive or substantial fraud doesn't
mean that control can't prevent or deter fraud from occurring. >> that's common ground for all of us. we'll -- we all want to make sure we deter and prevent fraud and make sure there is a belief in the integrity of our elections. but it is a balance, as you said. that presents so many challenges. often, state legislators don't really look -- as many of us think they should. both of your organizations are challenging the georgia law, and active dispute. i'm wondering if you could talk about the nature of your challenges and how you consider this issue of ensuring belief in the integrity of our elections and preventing fraud where it might occur. john, let's start with you. >> our affiliate in atlanta has
led a lawsuit that we are assisting with. the premise here is that at the outset -- that happened in georgia. restricting that access to vote by mail. we have also seen asian americans be faced with issues such as needs to have extended voting periods. to ensure they have the time to make sure they have the resources that they need to vote in an intelligent way. authorizing 202 will prevent that from happening. we talked about the potential interest by the government in ensuring there's no border fraud. but the troubling aspect of this is the compelling interest of the government to have to
make sure every eligible voter has the ability to cast a ballot. anything that places a burden on that franchise for voting, we have to look at that skeptically. this is where we come back to evidence. even if we assume that government officials are trying to prevent voter fraud, number one, we should look at the evidence of the voter fraud they are trying to address. number two, as the bill suggests, is that perhaps you can make an argument that you still want to present it. then you have to present evidence that what you are doing will prevent that from happening. but we don't see any evidence. so this is where i come back to. what all of us are talking about and respect to evidence.
>> talk about that lawsuit. >> it begins with our participation. and effort to try and intervene and engage around the passage of sb 202. we were part of every hearing we could be a part of. we testified multiple times in the run-up to the passage of the bill. often, new bill provisions would be introduced late at night and the hearing would be held at 7:00 in the morning. there were sometimes instances in which it was not clear that people could testify by zoom. there were -- the week before --
several days before the final bill was passed, the two provisions were introduced, the one that allowed for the unlimited challenges, and the other that removes the power from local election boards to decide which votes are disqualified or not, essentially changing practice by turning the power to appoint people to make those decisions over to the legislature. this was not done in a way that was deliberative. this was not done in a way in which there was time for the community to be able to rally and address each of these visions. when we look at the issue of the challenges, there were challenges over 300 of them after the 2020 election, and none of them were substantiated, or there he feels them were substantiated despite the fact that there were these multiple challenges. -- very few of them were
substantiated despite the fact that there were multiple challenges. the response to that is, it is august the country to the evidence. where is the evidence of people standing in line and getting a water or coke from a volunteer? we represent a black women's sorority. they often will try to bring kind of mutual aid to the line. as i mentioned earlier, up to nine hours in the primary in the heat. where was the evidence? the onus it seems to me is on the state to put on the evidence that demonstrates that this is necessary. we know it's burdensome. we know what it means to stand in line for nine hours in the heat. the burden is not on us. the burden is on them. they didn't even attempt to make the bread. it's enough to throw out the
words voter fraud like justice alito does without identifying the kind of fraud, the prevalence of the fraud, whether this is a means of deterring fraud. it just becomes a kind of catchall. as a way to ram through these voter suppression methods. in florida, we are challenging the florida law. there's a provision now that essentially allows for this kind of voter intimidation, by allowing partisan poll watchers to have free reign. moving about freely within the polling place. creating a criminal penalty for election officials who do not allow partisan poll watchers within the polling place to see the kinds of things that they want to see. william was talking about the importance of the secrecy. yet we have a bill that goes quite counter to that, by allowing partisan poll watchers to be looking over the shoulder of election workers and
listening in on conversations between voters and election workers. we know what voter intimidation is. this is voter intimidation. so where's the evidence that would support that fraud was happening inside the polling place that required this kind of free reign of partisan poll watchers? we are nonpartisan poll watchers, which means we don't enter the polling place, we are outside. where's the evidence that people giving water to people standing on a line that is 10 blocks long are somehow influencing them to vote? we know there's a barrier for election hearings. the georgia law prevents these provision of refreshments within 250 feet of a voter. not the polling place, the voter. the voter is 10 blocks away from the polling place online, you can't give them refreshments because you might be influencing them. i would say you are allowed to influence them. it's not a electioneering because it's not within the
barrier, the 250 foot barrier outside the polling place. now you are just trying to control the communication that may happen. and i guess more importantly, where's the evidence that that's even happening? where's the evidence that people are treating water for influence? -- trading water for influence? it's insulting. and black people are the ones subject to the long lines. we would be really excited of the state legislature came together around some provisions that would prevent people from standing in lines for nine hours. that would ensure that every boater has to be able to cast a vote within 30 minutes or within an hour. for adding polling places to ensure people are not standing in line or expanding early voting to cut down on people standing in line, all those things it seems to me make perfect sense. but how come there's not provisions to prevent people having to stand in line for nine hours? for people being exposed to covid on lines? but there are provisions for
something that has proven this nonexistent potential fraud. >> is you talk about evidence -- as you talk about evidence, you perked up all of our lawyers in the audience. in a few minutes, we will start taking your questions for the panel. the lightning round is where we turn to the questions from the audience. we have lawyers in the audience. all of you are involved in voting on a daily basis. others in the legal field are not involved professionally in voting issues on a daily basis. my question to you is, a failure is not currently involved in voting but wants to be involved, they have expertise in a different area, how would you direct that lawyer to find a way
to identify a way to be involved in voting? >> there's very tactical things. serving as a poll worker. serving as a pull counter. being an election official. most of these are volunteer positions, or maybe you get paid. we need people to have the integrity to serve in these roles and represent the public. number two is to be dedicated about this. you could talk to your neighbors, your friends. whether we like it or not, we as lawyers hold a privileged place in our society. many people still look to us for these types of issues. we don't see this as a partisan issue. this should not be a partisan issue. this shouldn't be about the foot, if you get more people to vote, you = strengthen ou
democracy, because in our government is actually being voted on by the people. whenever we are tucking about these voter suppression laws, the greatest threat to us is that it minimizes democracy. it's not about one part of the other gaining control. yes, there's an impact on particular communities. but more fundamentally, it's about making sure every citizen has that right. >> bill, how do we get lawyers involved? >> i love this question. thank you. first of all, the american bar association itself started a lawyers of the pole program to get lawyers in their own election day. in chicago, -- i would say contact your local association as well. the chicago bar association was great. we had over 100 lawyers that we
could dispatch out to -- we have over 2000 precincts in our 50 wards, we have let 500 off-duty police officers who are investigators, and every problem occurs in a polling place, sometimes you need someone to de-escalate the problem, so having a lawyer there was wonderful. sometimes, you don't need an investigator, sometimes you just need someone in there that will ease tensions, recite the law, what the rules are, with regards to this or that. it works great. so please, next election, go to the aba's, your local bar association, and work on election day. days before with early voting as well. talk to your neighbors and your friends. explain these issues to them. they goes without saying, --
it goes without saying, there's a whole lot of disinformation going on out there with regard to voting. i think the lawyers have to step up and say, you know, no, that's really not a problem, that's really not a fraud. and let us as a community of lawyers, who are sworn and dedicated to upholding this wonderful system of justice under the law, let's all participate in making this system free, fair, and open to everyone. >> one minute before we go to questions from the audience. how do we get lawyers more involved? >> well, voting is an issue that every lawyer should be involved in. because it really underscores our democracy. and i really agreed with both john and william about lawyers rejecting disinformation and getting educated. it begins with, stop talking about this is a partisan issue.
i started out by talking about the case thurgood marshall successfully litigated, challenging the all-white primary, of the democratic party in 1944. i'm actually old enough to have sued democrats around. voting issues i was on the team that sued clinton in the 1980's. who are the voters they are targeting? who are the voters they are targeting? that is how we can determine what is really happening here. the partisan label actually minimizes the threat. because people feel like it's both parties, they are fighting against each other. it sounds like a fair fight. but when we call it what it is, when we call that racial voter suppression, when we call it the
-- call that racial discrimination, when we call it the reasons why it needed to be amended, when we look at what's happening with these cases that we've been describing earlier and the targeting of black voters, when we look at who is standing on the lines, who risk their lives in milwaukee last year, you know who it is. so stop talking about it in partisan terms and talk about it in terms of democracy, and terms of racial justice and civil rights. whatever are the positive things you can say about america as a place of opportunity and equality comes to you courtesy of the sacrifice of civil rights activists and lawyers who challenged the barriers that existed. that would shame us today. and they are the ones who actually allowed us to live in a place that we feel comfortable calling a democracy.
we couldn't really call the country of democracy prior to 1955 when a whole section of the population was kept from participating in voting and the political process when we had apartheid in most of the country. so these are things that were done that actually make -- make us all proud, and we as lawyers should feel a response of bloody to hold up. i would like to see lawyers not regard this as a partisan issue or something they are separated from, if it means working in the polls, if it means pro bono, if it means talking with corporate clients about their response ability as corporate citizens to address issues of voting and democracy, if it means talking with your firm about which candidate and elected officials they support, candidates who have been advocating the big like, who are themselves engaged in promoting this entrenched -- disenfranchisement. i think lawyers have a special obligation to speak out on this court issue democracy -- core
issue of democracy. >> thank you. now we will hear from some of those lawyers about their questions. >> hello. thank you all for joining us today. it's my pleasure to begin this q&a session for the last many minutes of this program. i want to start with an important piece of information for all of you. which is the unique cle code for this program is ann-cle08042. please write this code down and enter it into the box located under the media player on the session details page and click submit. once again, that code for this program is ann-cle08042. you must enter this code in order to receive the cle credit for attending this program. we will now move to the q&a
best be a public advocate of voting rights? bill. >> thank you. as you point out, at the outset, i want to point out the passing of a very important attorney, aba member on sunday. it was a special advisor to the committee and most recently was appointed by the senior lawyers division and liaison to the standing committee. he spent over a decade practicing disability rights law with an emphasis on voting rights. primarily was representing the national federation of the blind and also administering the federation's help america vote act programs. he began his legal career in the department of labor solicitor's office. he became a special projects
council. he was appointed the designated ethics official for the national science foundation. and he was a zealous advocate for voting rights and he will be dearly missed by many, especially here in the aba. that said, the aba has a number of committees and commissions that work on these important issues. one is the standing committee on election law. and the advisory committee to the standing committee on election law. bipartisan committees that work on things such as a resolution that's going before the house of delegates that has some guidelines for election administration going forward. the aba can be a great clearinghouse of information on elections and making them again fair, free, and open.
we can discuss things here, then we can put out ideas on this. so, i think the aba is a great advocate for positive reform and changes in the way that we administer elections in this country. >> thanks, bill. surely, you've been involved over many years. i know you are both a fan and a critic. what do you think? what is the best thing the aba can do beyond programs like this to support voting rights? >> i think of the aba as the kind of goal standard -- gold standard organization for the finest lawyers on the country. i think of lawyers as playing a critical and vital role in upholding the rule of luck, which i regard as essential to a from sheena democracy. that -to a functioning democrac.
-- to a functional democracy. lawyers have an obligation to stand at the front of the line, explained to the american public the importance of free and fair elections to our democracy. and i think what i've been missing is an understanding of the power of the voice of the aba to claim this space as a critical democratic and urgent issue. instead, a kind of acquiescence to the idea that there are two sides to voter suppression. that there are two sides to keeping eligible citizens from being able to participate in the political process. that all of this can be explained by partisanship and therefore you have to stay out of it. i run a nonpartisan organization myself. and i started my career as a voting rights attorney in 1980. -- 1988. i've been doing this for quite
some time. i can say that partisanship is not what drives the kind of voter suppression that tom and i have worked on. it is a stain on a democracy, when laws are passed and practices are adopted with the full knowledge that these practices will inhibit the ability of latinos and asian americans and native americans and black voters to participate in the political process. the aba should have something to say about that writ large, separate from any committee, separate and apart from any particular action. allowing this rhetoric to unfold that has put so much of this voting conversation into a partisan basket. i think it's been a great disservice to our democracy. i would like to see the aba and the lawyers in it commit themselves to having clarity about the rule of law -- priority about the rule of law and free and fair elections in our democracy. >> if i could make a pitch for
something else -- that's because of this huge organization of lawyers, the aba last year had a program called "pull worker esquire," we had other programs to get lawyers working on elections in the polling places. here in chicago, the chicago bar association worked with us to get lawyers out in the field on election day, and i will tell you, there is nothing as valuable as the experience of seeing how the elections work on election day or during early voting and getting them in there. it's a great experience. it is almost a duty for every lawyer in this democracy to get out there and see how this process works, so they can voice and advocate from a place of knowledge. >> just to amplify the message of both of you, it's critically
important that all aba members recognize that the rule of law in the u.s., the rule of democratically adopted law, if that law is undermining the as far as elections, they are not fair and open to participation of all eligible voters, so we do centralize a rule of law in this country. that means centralizing the rule of voting rights. >> the next question is from my good friend. richard pinion. his question is about activism for voting rights. it's impacts today and in the past. -- its impacts today and in the past.
they currently doesn't seem to be going anywhere. because of the filibuster. i guess the question is, we know the history of activism. feel free to talk about that. but what can this legislation move forward at this point in time? >> the goal of activism cannot be overstated. it is powerful and important. our then director council was sitting in the hotel room with john lewis, helping plan out the details of the march plan that would be presented to johnson,
in the hopes that the march could be successfully concluded, which it was. we take this very seriously. we think the mobilization we have been seeing and that we certainly saw last year of voters is powerful and important. we do poll watching on the ground every single year, not just in high-profile election years, to make sure that elections are free and fair. what we saw last year was incredibly alarming in terms of voter intimidation, in some of the other activities that we saw with our own eyes. we think mobilization and activism is incredibly important. here's the problem. the problem is that voter suppression laws currently being enacted, the provisions of those laws are really designed to undercut, and they are in response precisely to the mobilization that happened last year. so if you look for example at the georgia voter suppression
law, we monitor the creation of that law from the very beginning, we -- and less than a week before it was finally enacted, to provisions were added. one that would allow for unlimited challenges of the legitimacy of voters, so this is to empower individuals, any individual who wishes to challenge a voters legitimacy in casting that ballot. and also there were many challenges in the 2020 november election. there was no substantial outcome that demonstrated that people who were ineligible were voting. the response to that was to say, now we are not going to let any individual have an unlimited right to challenge as many voters as a one, the second provision that came in under the wire in that bill was a provision that moved the power from local election boards and from the secretary of state to
be able to decide which votes will be disqualified and which are not. and this power is not sitting in the hands of the legislature, will be appointing the folks who will be making those determinations. -- who will be appointing the folks who will be making those determinations. no matter how many people mobilize -- >> we are going to leave this and take you live to the pentagon, is to get ready to announce mandatory vaccinations for active-duty troops. the press secretary, john kirby. >> right now, the secretary memo to the message to the force about covid vaccines that's public now, so i'm not going to reread it. i would just point out there are sort of three lemons here to it. one is that -- three elements here to it. one is that he will request approval from the president for a waiver to make the covid vaccines