More Than 31,000 Voters Reached Across Country
WASHINGTON, DC. – Today, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, provided live assistance to more than 31,000 voters through its suite of hotlines. This year, 4,000 legal volunteers and 6,500 grassroots organizers assisted voters. The Election Protection coalition provided a range of assistance from answering questions about the voting process to filing Election Day litigation. Since 2001, Election Protection has been the go-to-resource for voters seeking comprehensive assistance with navigating the voting process. Election Protection is the country’s largest and longest-running non-partisan voter protection effort.
Election Protection identified a number of problems that illustrate the challenges voters face, including lack of preparation by election officials, voter suppression tactics, voter intimidation, malfunctioning equipment, and long lines due to aging voting machines. Georgia’s Gwinnett and Fulton counties, for example, reported widespread voting machine failures as well as precincts with an inadequate number of machines. In some instances, where there were machine problems, poll workers did not have paper ballots on hand. As a result of successful litigation brought by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and coalition partners, voting hours were extended in three polling places (Pittman Park Recreation, Archer and Booker T. Washington locations), allowing many young voters who were unable to vote earlier in the day the opportunity to cast a ballot.
In Maricopa County, AZ voters were unable to cast ballots at their assigned polling locations or at a vote center due to voting technology breakdowns, including malfunctioning ballot-on-demand printers. Also, many polling places opened late or did not open at all. We received reports from voters who were directed to multiple vote centers, none of which were able to issue them a ballot. Some voters reported being simply sent away. One polling center turned away hundreds of voters while their printers were down. Election Protection will continue to work with partners to ensure that Maricopa County meets the needs of all its voters.
“Much work remains to be done to strengthen and improve the way elections are run in our country to ensure that no eligible American is disenfranchised or silenced,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Through Election Protection, we provided comprehensive support for voters across the nation and helped voters overcome barriers and hurdles that stood in their way. But in some parts of the country like Georgia, Arizona, South Carolina, and Texas, the problems are substantial and some officials remain bent on locking out voters of color. With a Justice Department that has all but abandoned its mission of enforcing the Voting Rights Act, Election Protection will stand in the void and continue to fight for a more inclusive democracy.”
“This election proves American people want a 21st Century democracy but are standing in lines caused by antiquated and malfunctioning machines trying to overcome districts that require a historic turnout to be competitive,” said Karen Hobert Flynn. “Democracy is about people, not politicians, and through early voting and today Americans reflecting the great diversity of our country patiently waited to have their say about the future. But 2018 is a tough climate; appointed leadership in the Justice Department is hostile to fully protecting voters, many of the protections of the Voting Rights Act are gone, and the president enjoys distracting from the true problems our democracy faces with rhetoric that many Americans find threatening. In spite of all of this, voters today showed their resolve to engage in a system they know isn’t working as it should – and are ready to go to work to make it work for all of us.“
“We are proud to have partnered with Election Protection to ensure that thousands of Latino voters were able to make their voice heard at the polls,” stated Arturo Vargas, NALEO Educational Fund chief executive officer. “Through our national toll-free bilingual 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA hotline, Latino voters across the country were able to get the help and information needed on Election Eve and Election Day to play a critical role in the outcome of races for Congress, Governor, state legislatures, and more.”
“Asian American and Pacific Islander voters need more assistance to fully participate in our democracy. The majority of our calls highlighted basic questions on how to register to vote, unfortunately after the deadline, candidates on their ballot, and where to find their polling location. But today also exhibited the excitement of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander voters as they called in asking about their voting rights and how to cast their ballots as well. The work continues after the elections as we take this growing interest in civic participation and work with them as engaged voters who can hold our incumbent and newly elected officials accountable in the coming year,” said Christine Chen, executive director of Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote.
“At the end of the day we were there to serve our Asian American and Pacific Islander community through the 888-API-VOTE hotline. Today, we had nearly 300 calls to the hotline and we were able to help voters in language. That’s a win for our community regardless of the outcome of the midterm election,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC.
“The actual outcome of the election is important, but the focus of our work today was on protecting millions of voters, including Arab Americans. While we are excited to join the Lawyers Committee in their great election protection work, our system of voting must do better than lines hours long, paperless voting machines glitching, purged voter lists and the type of cases received on the voter hotlines today. We are an example of democracy to the world and the 2018 midterms have demonstrated that our failing election system is also failing our democracy.” said Maya Berry, Executive Director of Arab American Institute.
In every election cycle, Election Protection helps voters address and overcome significant barriers to voter participation. This essential work is only possible through a strong coalition of national, state, and local partners, and a large cadre of volunteer lawyers, who dedicate countless hours to be a resource for voters from coast to coast. Based on the coalition’s ongoing work and today’s pertinent voting rights issues, Election Protection has identified the ongoing challenges to voting rights and election administration and will pursue reform in national and state legislatures, as well as in the courts, to ensure unfettered access to the polls.
CONTACT: Derrick Robinson, Director of Communications, [email protected]