2017 Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report

EQUALITY MoFo lawyers firmly stand behind the highest traditions of American law and demand that the government and courts protect the rights of citizens. IN THIS SECTION • Protecting Voting Rights • Championing LGBT Rights VOTING RIGHTS STILL DENIED The 1965 Voting Rights Act stands as a major achievement of the civil rights movement. Five decades later, large portions of the population still face obstacles when exercising their right to vote. In 2014, entertainer and civil rights activist Harry Belafonte visited MoFo’s New York office to talk about his experiences in the battle for civil rights. Despite clear progress over the decades, Belafonte argued, the right to vote was still a critical civil rights issue — and still under attack. Hearing Belafonte’s eloquent call to continue the struggle for equal rights was eye-opening, recalls Matthew D’Amore, formerly a partner in MoFo’s New York office and currently a professor at Cornell Tech and Cornell Law School. “For me, it crystallized the link between the right to vote and civil rights — and that we shouldn’t take access to the polls for granted.” Matt and other partners at the firm responded to Belafonte’s call by creating a voting rights team. FOCUS ON VOTER REGISTRATION To make their voices heard, U.S. citizens must first register to vote. To make voter registration simpler and more convenient, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Commonly known as the “motor voter” law, it requires states to facilitate voter registration at public assistance agencies and department of motor vehicles (DMV) offices. Yet in 2012, about 51 million people — one out of four eligible citizens — were not registered to vote. A recent report fromDēmos found that in many states, the DMV and other agencies regularly ignore these motor voter requirements. 15 | Morrison & Foerster Pro Bono Report