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West Virginia Early Voters: Do Not Be Discouraged.

October 21, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 21, 2008

CONTACT: Meg Reilly, mreilly@gloverparkgroup.com, 202-647-7684

WEST VIRGINIA EARLY VOTERS: DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED
Voting machine problems can be avoided by requesting assistance, examining paper receipt, calling 866-OUR-VOTE with questions

Washington, DC – West Virginians who plan to vote early this year should not be discouraged by recent reports of voting machine problems because resources are available to ensure that every ballot is counted accurately, as intended by the voter. Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is urging voters to examine their paper receipt after voting to be sure it was read correctly and to call 866-OUR-VOTE with any questions or concerns.

“Voters have the right to know that their ballot has been cast and counted accurately,” said Larry Norden, project director for the Voting Technology Project at the Brennan Center for Justice. “Election officials should take any faulty machines offline immediately to correct the problems and continue to make early voting accessible and accurate for all registered West Virginia voters. Resources like the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline are available for anyone who has concerns, so there is no reason for eligible West Virginians to feel discouraged from voting this year.”

Touch-screen voting machines have reportedly been misreading voters’ input on occasion in at least two counties since early voting began last week. Election officials believe that some of the machines’ calibration may be off, which would have caused the errors. While the problem is being remedied, it’s essential that voters not be discouraged and continue to take advantage of the early voting window. Voting early is a great way to avoid long lines and alleviate the burden on our election process on November 4th.

“Voters should be sure to check the summary screen and the paper trail that prints before their vote is cast to make sure their vote was recorded correctly,” according to Norden. “If there is a mistake, voters should notify a poll worker, then correct and cast their vote, then call 1-866-OUR-VOTE to protect their vote and the votes of others who will come after them.”

Thirty five of West Virginia’s fifty five counties rely exclusively on the type of voting machine that is reportedly having problems. And every county has at least one of these machines, as required by the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). West Virginia, like the rest of the country, has seen unprecedented voter registration this year so it’s crucial that all avenues for voting be fast, fair and efficient in these final weeks.

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Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline (1-866-687-8683) and dedicated team of legal experts and trained volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting, offering live assistance. The coalition has more than 100 partners at the national, state and local level and is providing live voter protection services now through Election Day for all 50 states.

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