#WhyIVolunteer – May Volunteer Spotlight: Russell Smith

Russell Smith is an experienced volunteer and lifelong democracy advocate. He has served as an associate for Spiegel & McDiarmind, attorney for the U.S Environment and Natural Resources Division, the U.S Department of Justice and more! He holds a B.A from Yale University, JD from University of Michigan and has been an Election Protection volunteer both remotely and in person.

Q: Why would you recommend this volunteer opportunity to someone else?

It is a wonderful way to help people who want to engage in this very important process. You get to meet and help a diverse group of people with a range of issues and many of them really appreciate that you have taken some of your time to help them out.

Q: Why do you volunteer your time to ensure voter’s have access to the ballot?

Complete and fair access to the ballot is key to our democracy. It was pivotal in the civil rights battles of the 50s-70s, it has allowed for the diversification of political leadership and increased political representation from the school boards to Congress, and it continues to be a central issue. I have long been interested in voting rights. When I left private practice, I interviewed for positions in both the Environment Division and the Voting Rights Section of the Civil Rights Division. While I ended up in the Environment Division, volunteering has allowed me also to work on voting issues.

Complete and fair access to the ballot is key to our democracy.

– Russell Smith

Q: What are the most persistent barriers to voting you have heard about while volunteering?

Language; identification requirement; misinformation about procedures; lack of information about alternative ways to cast a ballot; mistaken belief that a vote does not cost; lack of understanding about why voting matters

If you would like to learn more about the upcoming volunteering opportunities that Election Protection offers, please click here!