By President Emilio Varanini and
Board of Representatives Chair Betty Williams
On the heels of last month’s consequential election for federal, state and local governments, we think it’s important to recognize the contributions of all of the people working behind the scenes. Just as clerks and bailiffs help enable fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law in our courtrooms, so too do the efforts of election workers ensure that our balloting process remains free and fair where every legal vote is counted. In that way, too, the voice of the people is heard on issues important to fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law that are the cornerstone of our republic and of our association.
From the poll workers who collected and counted the votes, to the election officials who double-checked and audited the returns and the judges who assiduously but speedily heard the various court challenges, each person had a crucial role to play in the process. When everyone does their part without the appearance of bias, the public can be confident that the process is being administered fairly and the rule of law is being upheld.
At CLA, promoting fairness in the administration of justice and the rule of law is key to our mission. As lawyers, we rely on the rule of law to do our jobs every day. The rule of law and our democracy are linked and mutually reinforcing. We should never take for granted the importance of upholding the rule of law.
When it comes to upholding the rule of law in an election, the responsibility rests with the people who are tasked with carrying out the election regardless of their background or their personal views. Just as we expect judges to set aside their personal views and not make statements or take action that would call into question their impartiality, the same goes with those involved in counting and certifying the voting results.
Regardless of our political views, we can agree that the process requires that everyone involved in counting and certifying the voting results follows and respects the long-established norms. Those norms include conducting recounts in close cases and allowing disputes to be addressed in court, where judges expeditiously provide a forum for challengers to present their case.
Surely norms must not be followed blindly. When it comes to systemic racism, for example, norms should not be an excuse for upholding discrimination or undermining the rule of law.
The outcome of the November election, as we discussed last month, will have a wide-ranging impact in California beyond the presidential election. We appreciate and thank those involved in the election process for their diligent work to ensure a free and fair election.
We are also inspired by the voter turnout, which reached a record 80% in California. This ensures that the people’s voice is heard at the federal, state, and local levels, regarding initiatives and candidates running for office. This momentous turnout signals a renewed upswing in civic engagement, which CLA welcomes as it continues its civic education and outreach, following in the footsteps of the Power of Democracy Campaign of California’s Chief Justice Tani G. Cantil-Sakauye. The people, together with the vote counters, clerks, and judges to whom we pay tribute, are to be commended for a job well done.