I just signed up for local election protection efforts, and so should you. If you’re in New York, the New York Democratic Lawyers Council has an easy sign-up for election monitoring (and no, you don’t have to be a lawyer). If you’re elsewhere, sign up through the Obama website. You don’t have to be a lawyer or a law student, but it helps.
Poll monitoring is important because voter disenfranchisement comes in many forms — and low-income voters, urban voters and voters of color are often targeted at the polls. The GOP has been known to place police officers and other authority figures in and around polling sites in an effort to intimidate voters; misinformed poll workers have turned voters away; and language barriers often end up with frustrated voters walking out of their polling place. It’s crucial to have poll monitors on site to make sure that voters aren’t leaving without casting their ballots.
Swing states are in particular need of poll monitors, especially in urban areas. If you live in a swing state or if you can travel, do consider signing up.
If you can’t take the time to monitor the polls, don’t worry — there’s always more you can do, in your own neighborhood or even from your couch.