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Lawyers' Committee Releases Interim Election Protection 2008 Primary Report

April 21, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        

CONTACT:
Stacie B. Miller
202-662-8317
smiller@lawyerscommittee.org

Lawyers’ Committee Releases Interim Election Protection 2008 Primary Report

WASHINGTON, D.C., April 21, 2008 – The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law last week released its interim Election Protection 2008 Primary Report detailing the program’s findings in this year’s primaries.  “The heartening story of record turnout across the country has been highlighted throughout this process, said Jonah Goldman, director of the National Campaign for Fair Elections in the Lawyers’ Committee’s Voting Rights Project.  “The story left untold, however, is that the infrastructure that supports our election system often breaks down causing countless eligible voters to be disenfranchised.”

“As we look forward to the remaining primaries and to November 4, election officials have much to do to implement those solutions within their control.  Congress can also play an important role by highlighting the real problems voters face and crafting targeted, effective solutions – like requiring emergency ballots when machines break down and passing critical anti-caging and deceptive practices prevention legislation – in advance of the elections,” continues Goldman.

In 2000, millions of Americans, disproportionately in minority communities, were denied their right to vote.  Election Protection, together with our sister Hotline, 1-888-VE-4-VOTA, is the only national Hotline to provide immediate assistance nationwide.  Election Protection guides voters through the voting process, helping to ensure that all eligible voters have the opportunity to cast a meaningful ballot and have their vote counted.

During the 2004 election cycle, Election Protection mobilized 25,000 trained volunteers, including 8,000 legal volunteers, to monitor polling places, educate voters, facilitate a dialogue with local and state officials, providing legal support to poll monitors and answer the 1-866-OUR-VOTE voter services Hotline.  The Hotline received over 200,000 calls from voters in all 50 states.  During the primaries this year on February 5, February 12 and March 4, Election Protection received over 5000 calls to the Hotline, recruited and trained nearly 800 legal volunteers who answered over 100 phone lines in seven call centers from coast to coast and assisted voters on the ground at targeted polling places.

The toll-free number is available to any voters who need information, assistance or need guidance in understanding their rights.  It is open to the entire voting public, but targets historically disenfranchised communities, including Hispanic, African American and low-income communities.

Election Protection will conduct at least two more primary programs before turning attention to the general election in November.  On April 22, Election Protection partners will work to help protect voters’ rights throughout Pennsylvania.  By primary day, the Lawyers’ Committee, our primary partner in Philadelphia, the Committee of Seventy, and our other partners across the state will recruit, train and deploy over 700 legal volunteers across the state to help voters at the polling place, in the courts and through the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline.  On May 6, the Coalition will protect voters’ rights in Indiana and North Carolina through similar comprehensive programs.

Election Protection is in the process of establishing more than 25 Election Protection Legal Committees in targeted jurisdictions across the country.  These legal volunteers will work with coalition partners to support their voter mobilization activities from now until Election Day, meet with targeted election officials, distribute the 866-OUR-VOTE Hotline number and organize a targeted legal field deployment on Election Day.  Looking forward to November, data collected during the primaries will be used to push local election officials to make administrative reforms that will protect votes in November.

For more information about Election Protection and the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, or to read the Primary Report, please visit www.866ourvote.org.

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of housing, community development, employment; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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