Stacie B. Burgess
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
202) 445-6101 (cell)
Voters Continue to Face Challenges During the April 26 Primary Elections
Washington, D.C., April 26, 2016 – The nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection voter hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, received more than 550 calls as voters in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware made their voices heard during their primaries.
The hotline received calls throughout the day from voters seeking information, as well as voters seeking assistance on a range of issues including delayed poll openings, confusion resulting from insufficient information provided regarding partisan primary eligibility, broken machines and accessibility issues for voters with disabilities.
“We continue to receive hundreds of call to our 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from voters who want to participate in our democracy, but who encounter problems at the polls,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Much work remains to be done to strengthen our voting process across the country to ensure that every eligible voter is able to successfully cast a ballot. Improving the way that we administer and operate elections is key to ensuring that all voters are able to exercise the right to vote."
As the primary elections today closed, the majority of the calls to Election Protection came from Pennsylvania, where problems reported included:
- Confusion about Delegate Voting – The two major political parties select delegates through different processes. Voters called Election Protection and indicated that there was insufficient information regarding the delegate system.
- Broken voting machines – Election Protection heard from voters in several polling places across Philadelphia that machines were not set up or working when polls opened at 7 a.m. EDT.
In addition, Election Protection also heard from voters with disabilities. One Lebanon, Pennsylvania voter reported that a poll worker assisting her husband—who has a developmental disability—appeared to have made voting decisions for her husband before he was able to articulate who he wanted to vote for. Another voter from Providence, Rhode Island reported that she and her husband both had disabilities and struggled up a steep hill to get to their polling place. The voter witnessed other voters with disabilities leave because they could not get up the hill, and curbside voting was not offered at the time. Election Protection called the county to report the problem and had a poll worker placed outside to provide curbside voting.
Election Protection will continue to provide support to voters as they head the polls during the 2016 primary election season. As the nation prepares for the November 8 general election, it is critical that election officials work with non-partisan programs, such as Election Protection, to ensure jurisdictions are addressing existing obstacles and are properly prepared to administer elections in the future. Additionally, the Election Protection coalition will work to educate, engage and empower voters by providing information to help ensure that they are able to turn out, participate and vote.
About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Action Network, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.