Dana Paikowsky

  • Hosted by Campaign Legal Center
  • Sponsored by The Arnold & Porter Foundation
  • Service location Washington, District of Columbia
  • Law school Harvard Law School
  • Issue area Voting Rights/Electoral Participation
  • Fellowship class year 2019
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Dana’s Fellowship used outreach, advocacy, and litigation to protect the right to vote for eligible voters in pretrial detention and ensure they have meaningful access to the ballot.

2.3 million people are incarcerated every day in the United States, one-third of whom are incarcerated in jails in pretrial detention or for misdemeanor convictions. Most of these 750,000 people retain their right to vote because they have not been convicted of a disqualifying felony. Because these voters are in jail, though, they cannot vote in person, and accessing election information and absentee ballots can be difficult or impossible. Dana ensured these voters had real access to the ballot box and could exercise their constitutional right to vote.

Dana’s experience while running a canvassing program brought into stark relief how racism and poverty operate in complex, insidious ways to restrict access to the ballot box and disempower those who have been historically marginalized. It showed her who she wanted to work for; she wanted her canvassers to be her clients.

Fellowship Highlights

During the two-year Fellowship, Dana:

  • Created a system for mail-based voter outreach to jailed voters that has provided know your rights information to thousands of incarcerated voters in Virginia and Arizona
  • Worked on advocacy to successfully pressure Arizona to promulgate a rule requiring local election officials have plans in place to enfranchise jailed voters
  • Worked on several oversight reports, shedding light on jail-based disenfranchisement at the state and local levels
  • Worked with local coalitions to draft legislation to address jail-based disenfranchisement in four states and one of those bills passed in Maryland in 2021
  • Created an advocacy guide to empower advocates and educate the public on jail-based disenfranchisement
  • Co-hosted a series of webinars on jail-based disenfranchisement that have had more than 600 attendees

Next Steps

Dana will be joining the Department of Justice in the Voting Section of the Civil Rights Division. In that role, Dana will continue to litigate cases to vindicate the rights of historically marginalized voters.

Media

This lawyer spent the past year helping people in jail vote

Maryland bill would provide voting info to the incarcerated

Apache County sheriff, recorder sued over not providing public records on voting in jails

Utah inmates are dying from coronavirus, as advocates call for an investigation

A Utah inmate with COVID-19 has died as the virus spreads through the prison

From Behind Bars, Pretrial Detainees Fight To Vote

Preventing Jail-based Voting Disenfranchisement

As Nov. Nears, Attys Fight To Ensure Jailed Voters Get Ballots

Sheriffs have a lot of power over whether hundreds of thousands of people can vote

Whether or Not You’re Able to Vote in Jail May Come Down to Where You're Incarcerated

Incarcerated and newly released voters would get better election access under proposed plan

Most of the 750,000 People in U.S. Jails Are Eligible to Vote. These Advocates Are Fighting to Get Them Registered

Voting Rights In Jail

The 470,000 Potential Voters Most Likely To Be Disenfranchised Next Election

Getting out the vote in jail, during a pandemic

Will North Carolina’s jailed voters be represented in this election?

In Harris County, A Group is Working to Expand Voting Access in Jails

How Out For Justice Helped Expand Voting Access For ALL

Many people in jail are eligible to vote. But casting a ballot behind bars isn't easy

Vote! The Podcast: Our Post-Election Episode: What Happens Now?

How the federal government could promote voting access without HR 1

Biden Exec Order Will Aid Voters Long Left Behind: Those Affected By The Criminal Justice System

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