Bryan MacPherson is an active volunteer with Election Protection’s 866-OUR-VOTE hotline. He was previously a staff attorney with the Department of Energy’s Office of Hearings and Appeals and is now retired. Bryan now volunteers with a variety of non-profit organizations, but is an especially noteworthy Election Protection volunteer thanks to his longstanding commitment to the Election Protection coalition. Bryan has been a volunteer with Election Protection since 2004, helping voters with a wide range of issues: from voter ID requirements to misinformation to polling place lookups. The Election Protection team sat down with Bryan to discuss his professional career, voting rights, and his passion for helping voters on the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline.
Q: What does Election Protection mean to you, and why do you think that civic engagement is so important?
A: I think that the right to vote is very important. It’s the foundation of our democracy. After some experience with Election Protection, I’ve learned that our electoral system is not the best. I remember my first year of volunteering in 2004, I took a phone call on the hotline, from a person who was in a small community reporting that 90 something people, all with Hispanic sounding last names, received a letter saying that if they wanted to vote they had to come to some school on Wednesday evening and prove they were entitled to vote. And one of our partners in Election Protection got on that challenge, and was rescinded. At that point I realized how broken the election system is and how it needs all the help it can get.
Q: What are the most persistent barriers to voting that you’ve heard about through your calls?
A: I think ID requirements are a barrier to a lot of people voting. People have problems just getting to the polls. People with disabilities and so forth, it is a problem. And often it comes through the hotline when they have requested an absentee ballot, and it hasn’t arrived. There are affirmative disinformation campaigns that come up, and I’ve received some of these calls. Letters going out or notices being placed on doors that are indicating that one party votes on Tuesday (which is election day) and another party votes on Wednesday. Unfortunately, these things still happen.
Q: Why would you say you volunteer with Election Protection specifically, rather than other partisan organizations?
A: I like the non-partisan aspect of Election protection because I’m not just interested in people that would support the same candidates as I do, I’m interested in voting. I want everyone to vote.
I’m not just interested in people that would support the same candidates as I do, I’m interested in voting. I want everyone to vote.
Q: Why would you recommend that people volunteer for EP?
A: Well, I think if I were talking to a potential volunteer I would try to emphasize the importance of voting. I like to see everybody vote even if they are going to vote against the position that I’m taking. I think it’s important that people participate in democracy and volunteer for something. Not necessarily Election Protection, but if it suits somebody’s personality and interests, I would encourage them to do Election Protection. Other people, if they don’t quite feel they want to answer hotline questions, which is what I do, they can volunteer with another organization to do voter registrations and that sort of thing— get out the vote.
Q: What is your favorite part about volunteering?
A: I think my favorite part is when I answer a call, a voter has a problem, and I can help them. And that happens in many ways. I think my favorite type of calls are the ones where an individual is reporting a major problem that may affect other voters, and I’m able to take the call, give some advice, and then pass it on to others who will take more forceful action if necessary, including going to court.
If you would like to learn more about the upcoming volunteering opportunities that Election Protection offers, please click here!