Stacie B. Burgess
Director of Communications and External Affairs
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
(202) 445-6101 (cell)
Voters Without Vital Information on Morning of Super Tuesday As Several Secretary of States’ Websites Were Down
Live Toll-Free Hotlines (866-OUR-VOTE and 888-VE-Y-VOTA)
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 1, 2016 – Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is in full swing helping voters across the country during the Super Tuesday presidential preference primary. Volunteers are available throughout the day from 6 a.m.-9:30 p.m. EST to assist voters with questions and to ensure that all voters know their rights. As of 1:30 p.m. EST, the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline has received 1,067 calls.
This marks the first presidential election without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The majority of calls to the Election Protection hotline came from Alabama, Georgia, and Texas—all states that were previously covered under Section 5 of the VRA. In Georgia, voters reported long lines in Fulton and Gwinnett counties due to poll books malfunctioning. At Inman Middle School in Fulton County, only one out of three poll books were reported to be working, and 80 to100 voters were waiting in line. Additionally, some precincts in Gwinnett County were only providing ballots to Republican voters.
Throughout the morning, state websites that allow voters to verify their polling place location and confirm their voter registration status in Alabama and Texas were not working. As of 11 a.m. EST, the voter registration locator on the state’s website was not functioning in Colorado. Election Protection has reported this problem to the secretary of state offices in each state, and state officials took steps to get the sites back online.
Texas’ restrictive voter ID law remains in effect, even though the requirement was found to have a racially discriminatory effect and to be in violation of Section 2 of the VRA by both a federal trial court and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. One Texas voter reported that she registered to vote with her social security number. When she went to vote today, she only had a driver’s license from another state which is not a valid form of identification under Texas’ law. When the voter showed up to vote at her polling place, the poll worker offered her a provisional ballot, but the process was confusing and she left her polling place without voting. Distraught, she contacted Election Protection to ask for a clear explanation of her rights, and she will be returning to the precinct to vote by provisional ballot. Voters who believe they should be on the rolls but whose name does not appear on the rolls have the right to cast a provision ballot under the Help America Vote Act.
“No eligible voter should be denied the right to successfully cast a ballot,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Those voters who encounter barriers or identify issues at their polling sites are encouraged to contact 866-OUR-VOTE for assistance.”
Finally, voters from across the country who have recently moved have been confused as to whether they are eligible to vote in this election or where they should vote. Depending on the state, rules for voters who have moved and not updated their voter registration vary. For example, in Alabama if a voter has moved within the same county, the voter can update his or her voter registration at the polling place, vote provisionally and that ballot should count. However, if that voter has moved from another county, the voter is not eligible to vote.
“Ensuring the fundamental right to vote is protected for all voters remains our top priority,” said Chris Melody Fields, Lawyers’ Committee manager of legal mobilization & strategic campaigns. “We have already heard from hundreds of voters today wanting to participate in the electoral process but are confused by voting laws in their state. Election Protection is committed to educating, engaging and empowering voters to ensure they are prepared to cast a ballot that counts.”
Voters may continue to call 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) toll-free with any questions or issues that may arise. Spanish-speaking voters may seek bilingual assistance through the 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) hotline.
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 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.