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Primary Day in DC: Limited Resources As Voters and Election Officials Adjust to Changes

September 14, 2010



Stacie B. Royster

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law                                                

(202) 662-8317          
(202) 445-6101 (cell)


Primary Day in DC

Limited Resources As Voters and Election Officials Adjust to Changes

WASHINGTON, D.C., SEPTEMBER 14, 2010 – From the perspective of Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, the narrative for Primary Day in DC was one of voter frustration in response to the allotment of limited resources at voting precincts and  poll workers struggling to adapt to the many voting changes unveiled during this election.  Through its 866-OUR-VOTE hotline and our authorized observers at polling places, we helped voters address the problems such as:

  • A single check in table for Election Day Registrations that was insufficient to meet the needs of the many voters who took advantage of Election Day Registration or updating their registration status
  • Machinery breakdowns that slowed down the voting process
  • Voters mistrustful of  using the option of  placing their paper ballots in the auxiliary slot of broken scanners
  • Long lines to get and submit special ballots
  • Polling stations not opening in a timely manner

In most cases, upon notification of these and other problems, the DC Board of Elections did respond well to meet the challenges posed by these problems.  “The lesson here is making available greater resources when making significant changes to voting procedures, such as more touch screen machines and more increased ability to handle the many voters taking advantage of the opportunity to register on Election Day” said Alejandro Reyes, Associate Counsel and organizer of the Election Protection DC Primary program. 

As primary season ends today, Election Protection is now preparing to help voters across the country during the November 2 general election.  There will be nationwide hotlines in Washington DC, New York and California and field programs in more 20 states.   For more information about Election Protection and the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, please visit: www.866OurVote.org.

Election Protection’s nationwide, nonpartisan voter protection program has been helping voters since 2001 to ensure that they can cast a ballot that will be counted.   The largest program in the coalition’s history was 2008 when over 10,000 legal volunteers across the nation to assisted 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.