Law Day celebration focuses on the importance of voting

May 19, 2014
Larry Spahr, the director of elections for Washington County, addresses a crowd at the Washington County Courthouse Monday for the annual Law Day celebration. - Francesca Sacco / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

On the eve of Tuesday’s primary election, a central theme throughout American history – the right to vote – was the topic of this year’s Washington County Law Day celebration.

To highlight the importance of voting, and that every vote matters, the Washington County Bar Association and the Washington County Bar Foundation invited the director of elections in Washington County, Larry Spahr, to speak at their annual Law Day celebration at the Washington County Courthouse.

Roughly 30 people attended his speech in Washington County Judge Katherine Emery’s courtroom. Spahr spoke about his experiences with elections over the years, about the notation that every election has a consequence and the importance of educating young people on the voting process.

“You need to know what to do,” he said. “You need to look closely at each candidate and what they stand for. You need to know what to expect if they get elected.”

Law Day is a national day that is celebrated on the first of May. It was signed into effect by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958. Joyce Hatfield-Wise, the co-chairwoman of the Law Day committee, said Law Day is a “season” here in Washington County, with event sprinkled throughout the month including essay and multimedia contests that were open to school-aged students within the county. The season wrapped up Monday with the celebration at the courthouse.

In addition to hearing from Spahr, attendees also heard about the Pennsylvania Voter ID Act from this year’s Liberty Bell Award recipient, Judy Hughes. Hughes is the president of the League of Women Voters of Washington and is the Treasurer of the Pennsylvania league. The Liberty Bell Award is given to a nonlawyer who has promoted a better understanding of the American government, encourages respect for the law and the courts and contributed to the effective functioning of government since 1967.

Hughes said she was honored by the distinction and respects the bar association’s dedication to making it easier for people within the county to vote. Hughes said this year’s Law Day topic highlighted the need to reach out to young individuals and encourage them to vote.

The event concluded with an award ceremony and a dessert reception.

Bracken Burns, a former Liberty Bell Award recipient, said this year’s theme was just a continuation of what attorneys and the courts strive to achieve.

“The duty of every citizen to be informed about the voting process,” Burn said. “This is just one more opportunity to do that. This celebrates lawyers and the rule of law.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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