WVU Law students Ian Shoulders and Aliah Hasan are members of the Board of Directors of ACLU-West Virginia.
The hotline is helping citizens overcome roadblocks they may encounter as they exercise their fundamental civil right to vote.
Students in the ACLU College of Law Chapter assist callers to the hotline with questions regarding their voter registration, problems that arise at their polling place, a lack of access to their polling place, confusion over voter identification requirements, and other common issues that may prevent them from voting in the 2020 general election.
The Election Protection Hotline phone number is 304-355-5012. Calls are automatically transferred to law students’ smart phones via a secure app.
“While we remain optimistic that voters will not encounter any issues, voting problems do sometimes occur and we anticipate there may be some general unresolved questions, especially in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ACLU WVU Law Chapter said in a group statement. “By making ourselves available to help the ACLU of West Virginia address voter questions and concerns, we can advance our goals of helping people understand their civil rights and safeguarding civil liberties in a socially-distanced manner.”
The law students were required to attend a virtual training on the states election law and policy hosted by ACLU-WV before staffing the Election Protection Hotline. The students also have access to ACLU reference materials. If a complex question or serious issue arises that might require legal attention, the caller will be forwarded to an ACLU staff member for more expert assistance.
In addition to helping callers, the law students are also working with ACLU-WV to identify trends in specific counties and statewide by entering basic information from their calls into a database.
“This helps spread the work out and preserve time and energy,” said Ian Shoulders, president of ACLU WVU Law Chapter. “Our student volunteers get the opportunity to safeguard a valuable civil liberty while learning and gaining practical experience, and to earn pro Bono hours, while ACLU-WV can focus its efforts on the more limited yet time-consuming and complex issues should they arise.”
Shoulders, a second-year law student, and his classmate Aliah Hasan are members of the Board of Directors of ACLU-West Virginia. They have worked with their peers to increase meaningful collaboration, like the Election Protection Hotline, between the ACLU-WV and the student chapter on Law School Hill.
The ACLU is a non-partisan organization committed to defending the Constitutional rights of all Americans, including the right to vote. The goal of the College of Law Chapter is to host group activities that foster an understanding of the civil liberties shared by every US citizen and encourage the protection of citizens who exercise their civil liberties from unwarranted governmental limitations.