Nebraska law duo raises bar for civic activism on Election Day
Building on a program launched by a Big Ten colleague, two Huskers have created an opportunity for Nebraska Law students to volunteer as poll watchers on Election Day.
Launched by Nebraska’s Josh Waltjer and Carter Reed, the “Day of Civic Engagement” program includes a lunch discussion between state officials.
“The Day of Civic Engagement is an effort to support a fundamental and incredibly important principle of our democracy — free and fair elections,” said Waltjer. “Although I may disagree with some individuals on political and legal issues, our friends in the Federalist Society and I realize that the healthiest democracy is one where we encourage civil debate, protect our democratic process, and respect Constitutional principles. The Day of Civic Engagement gives law students a practical way to do just that.”
Inspiration for the event grew from a talk between Waltjer, Reed and a Northwestern University law student while the trio attended the American Constitution Society conference in Washington, D.C., in June.
During the talk, the Northwestern U student outlined work to start a Day of Civic Service. The project — which started in 2016 at Northwestern — successfully encouraged student organizations, drawing representatives from various political ideologies to volunteer on Election Day.
When Waltjer and Reed proposed the idea to Nebraska Law colleagues, they received support from Justin McCully, president of the Federalist Society chapter. The project was also endorsed by law school student government.
Along with working as poll watchers during midterm elections on Nov. 6, law professors have the option to reschedule classes to allow students to volunteer. The college will also hold a lunch panel with Wayne Bena, Nebraska’s deputy secretary of state for elections, and Danielle Conrad, executive director of American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, discussing election-related issues.
The panel discussion, which is noon to 1 p.m. in the Law School Auditorium, is free and open to the public.
Organizers at Nebraska and Northwestern hope their combined efforts inspire similar civil activism programming at universities and law schools nationwide.