When I first started working for Hawks Quindel, Barbara Quindel and Michele Sumara were my supervising attorneys and my mentors. One of the first meetings they invited me to was an Election Protection Legal Coordinating Committee meeting. I was elated. In law school, I had interned for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights in Washington D.C., doing voting rights work, and now I had a chance to work for a firm who shared my same passions. It was a dream come true.
That first meeting was more than ten years ago. I sat around the table with coalition partners, attorneys and community leaders who were dedicated to ensuring a fair election process for Wisconsin voters. Since then, I’ve volunteered with Wisconsin Election Protection for every election and every election season, I am amazed by the willingness of attorney and non-attorney volunteers to give their time to Election Protection. It is a privilege to work with them, as well as all of our partner organizations.
Until this year, I had spent almost every election with Barbara and Michele – early mornings and a lot of late nights. Eventually, I moved from an attorney-rover (poll watching) to the “war room.” The war room is really just a conference room with 12 phone lines, binders full of election statutes and attorneys. We spend our election days fielding phone calls from the national hotline and responding to attorney rovers who were in the field observing polling places. We looked up polling places, answered legal questions, responded to situations where voters were being intimidated, and worked with local election officials when our volunteers flagged access issues.
This past year for the 2020 Election, was my first election as the lead attorney coordinator in the Election Protection War Room– I was tasked with coordinating our state-wide attorney volunteers which was a big task, especially during a pandemic. Our volunteers came through and the election actually ran relatively smoothly, thanks in large part to the commitment of local election officials and our volunteers. It was a proud moment for our EP team.
Michele and Barbara both retired in 2020. I have been lucky to call them friends and colleagues for the last eleven years. What they taught me, through their tireless commitment and relentless work ethic, are invaluable lessons that have made me a better lawyer and human. I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from them. And I’m so grateful to be part of a firm whose generational commitment to this work has paved the way for me to continue it.
After every presidential election, the Wisconsin Election Protection Coalition, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters, releases its report and findings. For the 2020 Election Protection Report, visit: https://www.aclu-wi.org/sites/default/files/field_documents/election_protection_report_-_nov_2020.pdf
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