Berkeley Law student Emma Greenman ’09 has spent the past week in Denver at the Democratic National Convention—both in an expert and novice capacity.
“I came here for meetings on protecting voter rights and the integrity of the election process,” says Greenman, an executive board member of the National Democratic Law Students Council (NDLSC). “And I’m blogging about the convention, which is a totally new experience for me and an opportunity to provide a law student’s perspective on the convention.”
Greenman is the director of the Youth Voting Rights Institute, a joint project of NDLSC and College Democrats, which works to mobilize young voters and clarify voting procedures in different jurisdictions.
“We want to make sure college students and other new voters have all the information they need,” Greenman says. “The process can be quite complicated in certain states, and we’re using the talents of law students who can do some research and explain procedures and requirements in language an 18-year-old can clearly understand.”
Launched in 2005, NDLSC is the official law student arm of the Democratic National Committee and the student division of the National Democratic Lawyers Council. It fosters relationships between law school Democrats, attorneys, party leaders, and elected officials, and works to ensure that the political process remains open, fair, and accessible.
A Call to Action
“Lawyers and law students must be more intimately engaged in the election process,” Greenman says. “Our organization works on everything from poll monitoring and manning election hotlines to voter guides for campuses and proper placement of voting machines. Election administration issues like running out of ballots, absurdly long lines to vote, and broken polling machines are all preventable. We just need to be proactive with them as early as possible.”
At the convention, NDLSC board members created blogs to address these and other topics relevant to organization members and other law students. Describing her own posts as “mini op-eds,” Greenman has written about the convention’s major speeches and how important election administration will be in November.
“On Super Tuesday this year, the main polling place on Berkeley’s campus ran out of Democratic preference ballots and turned students away for three hours from 4 to 7 p.m. before new ballots arrived,” she says. “How many students didn’t vote because of that? These are the kind of things we’re working to prevent.”
Last year’s co-president of the Boalt Hall Democrats, Greenman is set to embark on the final school year of her joint degree program with Berkeley Law and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She plans to pursue a career at the intersection of law and policy after graduating, but will remain closely involved with politics.
A former staffer of the late Senator Paul Wellstone (D-Minn.) prior to law school, Greenman will also keep an eye on her home state this coming week during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.
– By Andrew Cohen