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Nine Principles Pledge America’s Lawyers on Voting Rights and the Rule of Law

Following publication of an extensive report on the state of voting rights in America, the New York City Bar Association has posted nine principles it believes every lawyer should embrace. The City Bar is urging every lawyer and law student to endorse and act in accordance with the following principles by signing here.

  1. Democracy depends on “the consent of the governed,” which in turn requires free and fair elections in which all eligible citizens are encouraged and able to vote and the candidate with the most votes – popular or, in presidential elections, electoral – wins.
  2. Elections should be administered in a nonpartisan manner before, during and after the voting and, where appropriate, with independent judicial review of any alleged errors or misconduct in those processes.  
  3. Efforts to suppress or make it harder for any group of eligible citizens to vote or to have their votes counted are antithetical to democracy and the rule of law.  
  4. Similarly, efforts to weaken the ability of local election officials to act in a manner that is independent, nonpartisan and fact-based are antithetical to the rule of law and democracy.   
  5. The legal profession has historically played a unique role in protecting the rule of law, including the right to vote in a democracy. As lawyers we will make every effort to protect the right to vote and to ensure the fair administration of local, state and federal elections, including, where feasible, serving as poll watchers, as non-partisan observers of the procedures in which votes are recorded and counted, or as defenders of election officials who administer elections and report results in accordance with applicable law.  
  6. Lawyers should not commence or participate in frivolous claims that seek, without any reasonable basis in fact or law, to undermine elections or the electoral process or to cast doubt on otherwise fair and legitimate electoral processes or outcomes.
  7. Every lawyer – whether an individual practitioner, a partner or associate in a law firm, an employee of a corporate legal department or not-for-profit organization, or a law professor – and every law school and bar association should recognize the central importance of fair and publicly respected elections to our democracy, our profession and the rule of law.
  8. Independent courts, free of political influence or pressure, are the guardians of our electoral system and should act swiftly and exercise their authority in appropriate cases to assure that all citizens’ right to vote is protected by relevant authorities and that election officials are able to perform their duties without pressure, intimidation or interference by any person or political body.
  9. Congress should exercise its Constitutional authority to enact federal legislation, and states should enact corresponding local legislation, that protects and facilitates the right to vote of all eligible citizens and protects election officials’ independence from political influence or pressure in performing their duties before, during and after voting in all federal and state elections.

The pledge is here: