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 will launch an outreach, advocacy, and impact litigation program to ensure eligible voters who cannot pay bail in NY and PA are not deprived of their right to vote.

Because there are no clear rules as to states’ obligation to enfranchise the voters they jail, incarcerated voters often find themselves without access to voter registration materials, lacking voting information, and barred by absentee ballot deadlines that precede their incarcerations. Enfranchising these voters is particularly important because of who they are. Pretrial detainees are a microcosm of historically marginalized voters, disproportionately low-income, homeless, disabled, and people of color. After a decade of policies restricting access to the ballot box, this project presents a valuable opportunity to expand access to traditionally marginalized voters.

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 Plans

Dana wants to turn jailhouses into polling locations using a ground-up strategy of direct assistance, advocacy, and litigation in NY and PA. She has targeted these states because they both: (1) have one jurisdiction that enfranchises jailed voters but have not scaled that success statewide; (2) are good forums for litigating voting rights claims in state and federal courts; (3) have jurisdictions with money bail systems that keep the indigent behind bars. First, Dana plans to provide direct assistance to eligible jailed voters, which will help her both understand the barriers they face, and overcome the obstacles that have previously impeded jail voting cases. Then, she will use litigation and policy advocacy to push for positive reform. By working with incarcerated voters from registration to Election Day, she will ensure they have the resources they need to litigate claims, change policy, and use their voices to affect large-scale change.


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

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