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In the end, Barack Obama probably would have taken South Carolina without their help. But long before the poll numbers started rolling in, 50 D.C-area lawyers were up at dawn, doing voter protection work for their guy. The volunteers are members of Young Lawyers for Obama, a group founded by David Burd, an attorney with D.C. firm Arnold & Porter. The group started roughly a year ago and now has more than 2,000 members and 50 chapters, including one in Alaska.
Local member Shehzad Akhtar, who helped coordinate the South Carolina effort, said most of the D.C. lawyers were assigned to polling stations in the Columbia area. Thirty other members from other chapters were scattered throughout the rest of the state.
The lawyers arrived at their posts at 6:30 a.m. on primary day and, for the most part, just hung around until the polls closed to make sure voters were able to get in and out quickly. The lawyers reported several small problems, including one at a polling station inside a gym.
“There had been an athletic event the night before, and there was still a sign up that said ‘Admission $5.’ So, [one of the lawyers] asked for that to be taken down,” says Akhtar.
The lawyers reported a few cases of broken voting machines, but nothing likely to end up on CNN.
At 7:01, Akhtar said he departed his post and headed to downtown Columbia for some celebrating. The D.C. group boarded a bus back home the next day.