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Much Ado About Nothing Legal teams fanned out across the United States on Nov. 7 monitoring polls and setting up boiler-room legal teams in heavily contested races and call centers to answer questions and jump into action if voters were being disenfranchised. But nothing calamitous appeared to happen. “It’s basically sporadic incidents, problems with machines in St. Louis, Ohio, some places in Florida,” says Joseph Sandler, former general counsel to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who helped organize legal teams for the Democrats. Despite the effort, lawyers didn’t encounter anything like the 2000 presidential election, say organizers. “ Bush v. Gore certainly changed the landscape,” says Scott Thomas, a former Federal Election Commission chairman now at Dickstein Shapiro. “That really I think enlightened a lot of attorneys around the country about how bizarre our laws are in many respects.” In Washington, more than 100 lawyers and law students gathered to staff a voter-protection hotline, taking complaints and questions from voters in more than eight states. The hotline was one of the key components of the Election Protection Coalition’s monitoring efforts. The coalition, formed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the People for the American Way Foundation, and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, also sent teams of lawyers to act as poll monitors across the country. Lawyers took questions from voters at the Lawyers’ Committee’s New York Avenue Northwest headquarters and the nearby offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, which hosted a call center for the coalition. In New York, Kirkland & Ellis, Proskauer Rose, and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett set up call centers for the coalition. The hotline received more than 20,000 calls nationwide on Monday and Tuesday. James Joseph, a partner with Arnold & Porter who was in charge of one of the rooms at Skadden’s call center, says some of the most frequent complaints the hotline received concerned voting-machine malfunctions and poll workers who were preventing voters from casting their ballots because they were misinformed about voter-identification requirements. Melissa Williams, a tax associate with Skadden’s D.C. office who worked the phones on Election Day, says the most disturbing call she received was from a woman in southwestern Virginia who had received a call saying she would be arrested if she showed up to vote. “It’s sad these things still happen in this day and age,” Williams says.
Ghosts in the Machine In the heated open-seat senatorial race in Tennessee between Republican Bob Corker and Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr., Ford called on his high school friend, Charles Johnson IV, now at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, who had worked to organize Ford’s legal team since October. Despite having two legal teams of at least 20 in Memphis and Nashville ready to spring into action, the morning calls were basic fare about where to go to vote. “This is probably the most comprehensive voter protection the state has ever seen on the Democratic Party side,” said Johnson on Election Day. Despite having a “panoply of filings” standing by in case an injunction or ballot recount was needed, Ford didn’t end up using them, as Corker handily won the seat. Pennsylvania also had a smattering of voting issues. Republicans claimed that when voters went to vote for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), the vote flipped to challenger Bob Casey Jr., said Heather Heidelbaugh, a partner at a law firm whose client is the Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania. Even those problems were swept away by the Democratic flood. Casey beat Santorum by almost 20 points.
Keeping Score is Legal Times ‘ weekly column devoted to the legal business scene. Got a tip for Alexia or Anna? Contact them at [email protected] or [email protected].

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