Lawyer 'Steps Up' to Work Election Day Polls
By Csaba Sukosd | October 20, 2020
There are times in life when people inevitably follow in their family's footsteps. For one central Ohio attorney, it happened because of a pandemic.
Just like her grandparents decades ago, Jill Tangeman, a lawyer from Delaware, Ohio, will serve as a poll worker on Election Day prompted by an Ohio Supreme Court initiative.
"Knowing that it is a unique time, and a lot of our normal poll workers are elderly, I certainly understand and don't want them to put themselves at risk," Tangeman said.
Expecting a shortage of election officials over concerns due to COVID-19, the Supreme Court enacted an order allowing attorneys to receive education credit in exchange for poll work.
As a 22-year veteran of the legal profession, Tangeman specializes in real estate law. But she feels the acumen and skills necessary for an attorney - no matter the discipline - are universal to assist voters and the voting process.
"Lawyers are trained to understand the rules. So, that certainly helps," she said.
An incentive for attorneys who volunteer, excluding judges and magistrates, offering four credit hours of continuing legal education (CLE). Lawyers in Ohio are required to complete 24 hours of CLE every two years.
Attorneys can register through the secretary of state's website.
Tangeman, while appreciative of the perk, was much more compelled by Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor "asking lawyers to step up" when the plan was approved in July.
"Ohio attorneys have a long record of public service," Chief Justice O'Connor told CBS News as part of an appeal for attorneys to register. "I can think of no greater opportunity for lawyers in Ohio to give back to our state than to get involved on Election Day and help fill the urgent need for poll workers."
Tangeman is optimistic that her peers, law firms, and legal organizations across the state will use this experience to pursue poll service as a regular civic tradition instead of a one-off solution for an unusual situation.
"I'm excited to see how this goes. I hope that I'm a friendly face, and people feel welcome, and will come and exercise their rights," she said.
For those seeking more information about the attorney poll worker program, the Ohio Supreme Court's Commission on Continuing Legal Education produced a section dedicated to frequently asked questions.