By the time many New Yorkers awaken Tuesday, attorney Theresa Lardner of Brooklyn Heights and a battalion of law students from around the city will have been up and working for hours at polling places in hard-fought battleground states.
Having endured long bus rides or flights from their home, and fortified by innumerable cups of coffee, their Election Day will be a very long one.
Lardner, 37, a corporate associate in the Manhattan office of the 850-lawyer firm Bingham McCutchen, is one of hundreds of lawyers from New York who have volunteered to be deployed in a massive effort aimed at assuring American voters are not deprived of their right to cast their ballots.
The lawyers, as well as law students from Columbia Law School, New York University School of Law and elsewhere, are part of Election Protection 2004, a nonpartisan project born of allegations of voting irregularities during the 2000 presidential race.
The project is composed of a coalition of civil rights and law groups, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, with the avowed aim of “protecting the rights of all U.S. citizens to cast a ballot” Tuesday Several large law firms in Manhattan, including Debevoise & Plimpton and Kirkland & Ellis, are taking part in the effort as an element of their public interest work.
One part of the overall coalition is Impact 2004, an umbrella group for law students from schools across the country who will be working as poll watchers and staffing Election Day hotlines that are expected to be swamped with queries from voters with last-minute questions or problems.