Going into the 2014 general election, American voters faced significant challenges and barriers to the franchise. Problems that had not been fixed from previous election cycles plagued the administration of elections. The 2014 general election also marked the first major election since crucial protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were weakened by the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Voter turnout was the lowest in a midterm election since 1942 with just over 36% of the eligible population turning out to vote. Democracy should not be this hard.
The 2014 Election Protection Report depicts the obstacles to the ballot box experienced during the 2014 general election season and the work performed by the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition to help voters respond to undue burdens on the right to vote. The Election Protection Report documents a 45% increase in calls from the 2010 midterm election to the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, with over 43,000 total calls during the 2014 election season and over 18,000 calls on Election Day alone. Other key highlights include:
- Of the reported voting inquiries to Election Protection, questions about polling places account for 61% and 24.5% concerned voter registration;
- Of the reported problems to vote, 26% concerned polling places, 22.9% concerned registration and 10% concerned poll workers;
- In Texas, over 13% of problems reported by voters were with the state’s stringent voter ID requirement;
- In Georgia, where nearly 40,000 eligible individuals attempted to register to vote but were inexplicably left off the state’s voter rolls, nearly 45% of voters sought information about voter registration, and hearly 57% of reported problems were with registration; and
- Texas and Georgia were among the top five states by total call volume on Election Day.