Formidable election lawyer Marc Elias has launched an innovative new digital publication and resource center dedicated to providing advocacy and information about voting rights and democracy. Democracy Docket highlights and combats suppressing voting laws and practices. It’s uniqueness originates from its highly respected founder—Elias—and the urgency such a platform possesses during times where voter suppression is on the rise.
Elias is the chair of Perkins Coie’s Political Law Group and has been named by Politico Magazine as one of the “50 politicos to watch.” He served on Hilary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign as attorney of record and was lead counsel for Senator Al Franken in the 2008 Minnesota Senate election that resulted in the longest recount and contest in American history. With experience winning cases in the Supreme Court and representing countless senators, governors, and representatives, it’s no wonder Elias is considered one of the leading recount and post-election attorneys in the country. He’s been involved in most major election controversies from the past decade.
He’s taken his outreach further with Democracy Docket, now using his seasoned expertise to provide information more easily accessible to the general public.
Democracy Docket officially launched on March 5th of this year, with its newest look—developed and powered by LexBlog— being rolled out with the beginning of the Democratic National Convention.
🗳️Voting rights resources
🏛️Interactive case map
📢 Share Your Story
And so much more!https://t.co/mQI4D7nEr1
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) August 17, 2020
Elias is the lead presenting lawyer for the Democratic party and attributes much of the voter suppression to the Republican leaders in the country, notably the president. He wants Democracy Docket “to serve as a resource for people worried about the Republican assault on democracy.”
Coined “one of the most influential of unelected democrats in Washington” by the New York Times, featured in the Washington Post, 60 minutes, CNN, Bloomberg and more, Elias’s reputation as a powerhouse attorney meant owning his own publication would reach plenty of people. On Twitter alone Elias has more than 80,000 followers who tune in to hear his thoughts. A publication like this meant amassing even more publicity and traction as well as compiling resources into one easy-to-find place.
Elias is constantly active on Twitter, outspoken on his views with both the written and spoken word.
We get a once-in-a-decade chance to have fair maps.
This November is that once chance. We can't let the @GOP control another round of Redistricting.
We need to vote Democratic top to bottom.
The future of our democracy depends on it. pic.twitter.com/UukgH2fpi3
— Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) July 9, 2020
With the broad audience and readership it reaches, Democracy Docket covers stories that might not receive attention otherwise.
“Many new laws and policies target single counties or smaller subsets of populations. These efforts attract less media attention and fewer resources from groups committed to voting rights,” Elias says. “They often do not involve high-profile voting rights issues or cutting-edge legal theories. Yet, these laws often impact a significant number of votes in competitive elections.”
With the November election fast-approaching and COVID-19 showing no signs of slowing down, protecting voting rights is arguably more important now than ever. Mail-in voting is an increasingly popular method, but one met with many setbacks that Elias addresses. He spoke on the Washington Post YouTube channel, saying “congress should be incentivizing states to move to vote by mail.”
Democracy Docket shares information on voting suppression that may not make the news, provides easy-to-understand explanations on obstacles and restrictions, and features a monthly newsletter called “On the Docket.”
Elias began publishing On the Docket at the end of 2019, before COVID-19 had impacted the U.S. and amassed a number of unforeseen voting issues. The update summarizes what has happened in the past month, what he’s reading, and what his dog Bode is barking about.
“My goal is to provide thoughtful updates on important voting rights cases and initiatives as well as to highlight topics and trends that are developing but might otherwise be overlooked in a busy election year,” Elias writes in the first On the Docket newsletter, published December 30, 2019.
The newsletter and the site also have a section that discusses where Elias is litigating. He has had voting-related cases in 27 states so far, amassing 61 victories with many cases still active. An interactive map allows you to see what’s going on in your home state, one of the new features from LexBlog’s redesign.
Scott Fennell, Lead Developer at LexBlog, worked hands-on with the site for its relaunch, noting that the company was more than ready to handle a site of this magnitude.
“It’s always an exciting thing to work on a high-profile site,” Fennell said. “I always feel really well-prepared for it though, because of the vast number of sites and products we have released for the largest law firms on earth over the past decade.”
Fennell has been with LexBlog since 2012 and worked with a team of other LexBlog employees to ensure Democracy Docket would be ready for the DNC.
“The reason we were able to do that is because this is something we have a ton of experience with. I can’t stress that enough. Some years ago, WordPress.com had a quiz for developers, where you had to answer questions about WordPress code against a timer,” Fennell said.” I casually took it while eating a sandwich and got the second highest score of all-time, sustaining only a mustard stain on my shirt in the process.”
LexBlog was founded in 2004 by Kevin O’Keefe and has made a reputable name for itself in the legal industry. Today, LexBlog boasts over 25,000 members all over the globe,
“We do this stuff everyday and we have for a long time,” Fennell said. “There really is almost nobody out there who has done more design-to-WordPress conversions for high-end clients than us.”
Democracy Docket also informs visitors about safeguarding voting both by mail and in-person and allows them to see how their states compare to others. One thing that Elias stresses the most is making voting accessible through four requirements he believes every state should implement before the upcoming election.
First and foremost, postage must be free or pre-paid by the government. Next, ballots postmarked on or before election day must count. Signature matching laws need to be reformed to protect voters. Lastly, community organizations should be permitted to help collect and deliver voted, sealed ballots.
Currently, only Washington has all four pillars in place and six states have none. Without these safeguards, there is no guarantee that voters can fully participate in the November election.
“There are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of voters who face disenfranchisement unless these restrictive laws are struck down for the 2020 election,” Elias says.
Elias directs a lot of attention toward by-mail voting—since COVID-19 has made this method a physically safer alternative, though not a safer way to ensure your vote counts. He addresses topics such as the President’s false claims about mail-in voting versus using absentee ballots and how to vote by mail among the uncertainty with the U.S. Postal Service. As well as being an advocate for accessible voting by mail, Elias also discusses errors with the in-person system.
“I established Democracy Docket to ensure that every voter who wants to vote in person can do so without a long line, safely, and early.”
He is an advocate for every community, pointing out the disparities in waiting for lines for minority communities as well as fighting to make voting accessible for college students and young people. Currently, Democracy Docket has four sponsors and partners with seven organizations such as Vote Latino and League of Women Voters.
There’s still a long way to go to ensure voters can fully participate. Democracy Docket is a step in the right direction. As Elias puts it, “Democracy is literally on the ballot.”