National Lawyers Guild: Election Organizing, Know-Your-Rights & Legal Support

Election Organizing Know-Your-Rights and Legal Support

National Lawyers Guild

Election Organizing: Know-Your-Rights and Legal Support

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This November, voters will turn out for a historic election taking place at the height of a global pandemic and economic downturn, which many are calling “the most important election in United States history.” The NLG views voting in this election as an action, and governors around the country have already started taking efforts to suppress voter turnout, largely in support of the Trump Administration which says that it will challenge election results if not re-elected, and aggressively crackdown on protests that result. Voters should be prepared for voter suppression on November 3rd, and activists should be aware of their rights. 

Know-Your-Rights on Election Day (Source: ACLU Voting Rights)

  • If you are questioned about your political beliefs by anyone you do not need to respond. 
  • If you are in line to vote and polls close, you have a right to stay in line and cast your vote. 
  • If you make a mistake on your ballot, you have the right to request a new one. 
  • If the machines are down at your polling place, you have the right to a paper ballot. 
  • The following hotlines are available for any emergency needs:
    • English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)
    • Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-866-839-8682)
    • Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US (1-844-925-5287)
    • Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683

Know-Your-Rights at Post-Election Protests

For a comprehensive list of your rights, the NLG maintains a library of KYR booklets for activists in English, Spanish, Arabic, Bengali, Urdu, and Farsi. Activists should know their most fundamental rights for protesting and law enforcement encounters: 

  • If you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, always ask: “Am I detained?”
    • If the answer is “Yes” then you have a right to main silent. 
    • If the answer is “No” then you have a right to leave. 
  • Once you are detained, you have an automatic right to remain silent. 
  • While detained, you also have a right to a lawyer.
  • If you are pulled over on your way from a protest, you have a right to refuse a search. However:
    • You may be ordered from your vehicle. 
    • Upon reasonable suspicion, your vehicle may be searched for weapons. 
    • Upon probable cause, your entire vehicle may be seized and searched. 

Legal Support at Post-Election Protests
The NLG Mass Defense Program provides comprehensive legal support for protesters, including Legal Observers, legal support hotlines, and KYR materials. For more information on ensuring that these resources are in place for your protest, contact your local chapter on NLG’s Directory of Chapters.

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