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Election Protection Hotline Available to Help Voters in New York

September 13, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT:

Stacie Royster, Director of Communications      

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law                                                                            

(202) 662-8317                                                          

(202) 445-6101(cell)

sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org

           

Election Protection Hotline Available to Help Voters in New York
Toll-Free Number (1-866-OUR-VOTE) Available Now; Live Assistance on Primary Election Day

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) SEPTEMBER 9, 2010 – Election Protection - the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition - will be available to assist voters in New York’s primary elections on Tuesday, September 14, 2010, as the state transitions to new voting machines.   From 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m on primary day, trained volunteers will help resolve New York voters’ questions and problems through Election Protection’s toll-free hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683).   Additionally, legal volunteers will be monitoring polling sites in all five New York City boroughs, providing assistance to voters and poll workers, conducting a brief survey on voters’ experience with the new voting machines and intervening when necessary. 

Election Protection is concerned about the inadequate overvote protection on the machines used in New York City.  An overvote occurs when the machine reads that a voter selected too many candidates for a particular office.  Instead of automatically rejecting the ballot, a voter receives a confusing message and is allowed to still cast his or her ballot.  As a result of this configuration, in 2008, 13 Florida counties produced overvote rates almost 14 times higher than was expected, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. 

“There is often an increase in problems and confusion at polling places any time a jurisdiction implements a new voting system for the first time,” said Eric Marshall, manager of Legal Mobilization at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.  “Unfortunately, these types of problems could be compounded on September 14 by the lack of overvote protection and lead to the disenfranchisement of countless New Yorkers.  Election Protection is ready to do its part to ensure traditionally disenfranchised voters are able to fully participate in Tuesday’s primaries,” Marshall continued.    

The 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683) toll-free hotline is available in English and Spanish to any voters who need information, assistance or guidance in understanding their rights.  It is open to the entire voting public, but targets historically disenfranchised communities, including: African Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and other racially and ethnically diverse communities; seniors; young people; low-income voters; and individuals with disabilities. 

Election Protection’s nationwide, nonpartisan voter protection program was the largest in the coalition’s history in 2008.  Over 10,000 legal volunteers fanned out across the nation to assist voters, poll workers and election officials in 25 states; the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline received over 240,000 calls from voters seeking assistance; and the www.866OurVote.org website was visited by more than 283,000 people in the six weeks leading up to Election Day.  Click here to read Election Protection’s 2008 report, Election Protection 2008: Helping Voters Today, Modernizing the System for Tomorrow.Click here to read more about Election Protection's New York Primary Program.

For more information about Election Protection and the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866OurVote.org.

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Media Note:  Voting Rights experts and Election Protection spokespersons are available for media interviews.  Please contact Stacie Royster to coordinate, sroyster@lawyerscommittee.org, 202-662-8317.