CLE credit available to attorneys who work polls on Election Day

The Indiana Supreme Court is joining the effort to recruit poll workers for the November general election by offering incentives to encourage lawyers to spend the day helping Hoosiers cast their ballots.

In a letter sent Wednesday to members of the bar, all five Indiana justices asked lawyers across the state to consider serving as a poll worker for the Nov. 3 national election. The Supreme Court pointed to concerns that many of the people who typically work the polls are senior citizens and this year they might be forced to stay home because of the heightened health risk posed by the pandemic.

Attorneys who volunteer to staff the polling sites may report up to one hour of continuing legal education credit for the training they receive to be a poll worker. Also, they will be allowed to report the hours spent working at a polling site as pro bono hours under Rule 6.7 of the Indiana Rules of Professional Conduct.

More information about the incentives and about signing up to work can be found on the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration’s website.

The idea for incentivizing attorneys came from Steven Shine, partner at Shine & Hardin LLP in Fort Wayne and chair of the Allen County Republican Party. He wrote a letter in August to the Supreme Court and the Indiana State Bar Association, suggesting CLE credit and pro bono hours be offered to all lawyers who volunteer on Election Day. He also proposed that the lawyers donate the wages they receive for working the polls to Indiana Legal Services.

Following the Supreme Court’s announcement, Shine said, “I am grateful for the prompt attention that Chief Justice (Loretta) Rush has given to this suggestion and the importance she has placed on the Election Day process.”

The Ohio Supreme Court issued an order in early August also offering incentives to recruit attorneys for the election. Lawyers in the Buckeye state who complete the training and serve as a precinct election official on Nov. 3 will receive up to four hours of CLE credit.

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson is assuring individuals who work the polls that they will have personal protection equipment. The state will be providing masks, gloves, hand sanitizers and sneeze guards. In addition, disinfectant will be available to wipe down the voting machines and electronic poll books.

“We’ve been working feverishly behind the scenes to ensure we can protect the poll workers and voters,” Lawson said during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s COVID-19 press conference Aug. 26.

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