INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Supreme Court has signed on to an idea pitched by Fort Wayne attorney Steve Shine that will allow lawyers who work the polls to receive credit toward continuing education requirements.
Shine, the Allen County Republican Party Chairman, sent a letter about a month ago to Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Loretta Rush. On Tuesday, he received an email that the five justices discussed it and are moving forward.
“I am delighted with the Chief Justice's recognition that this concept will help facilitate the Election Day process, and I am grateful for her prompt action on this suggestion,” Shine said.
Counties around the state are struggling to fill poll worker positions this year because many of their reliable volunteers are senior citizens at higher risk of COVID-19 complications. In the June primary election, counties limited the number of voting locations – causing long lines for voters.
Shine said he modeled the idea after a program announced by the Ohio Supreme Court.
In addition to earning education credit, the day's work will also count toward pro bono work encouraged by the state bar, he said. Pro bono work is undertaken voluntarily and without payment.
The Supreme Court didn't embrace a third prong in which lawyers would donate their poll worker pay – up to $150 a day depending on the county – to Indiana Legal Services to help indigent litigants.
An email from the court to Shine said a letter will be sent to attorneys “encouraging them to volunteer and letting them know that they can report up to an hour of CLE credit for poll worker training along with the hours served at the polling site reportable as pro bono credit.”
Supreme Court staff is currently working on a website with information on how to volunteer, report the hours and some ethical considerations from the Disciplinary Commission staff.
The state is working with the Indiana State Bar Association and hopes to have information out this week.