WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, released a “2018 Midterm Elections Preliminary Report” identifying trends of problems experienced by voters in the 2018 midterms. On Election Day 2018, Election Protection provided live assistance to more than 31,000 voters through its suite of voter support hotlines, including a newly-launched texting hotline through which voters could receive help from trained volunteers and a team of social media monitors that tracked voting problems reported on various platforms and flagged misleading or intimidating content.
Nearly 10,000 volunteers assisted voters at polling places in 30 states and through Election Protection call centers, including 4,000 legal volunteers from national legal associations, the corporate legal community, and law schools. 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.
“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, New York, North 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.”
Clarke continued: “Through extensive data amassed directly from tens of thousands of voters regarding voting barriers, we are now undertaking a two-year campaign to combat voter suppression in advance of the 2020 election cycle, with a focus on parts of the country where the problems are greatest.”
“It is clear that election officials across the country failed to prepare for record-breaking voter turnout in the 2018 midterms, leading to many preventable problems on Election Day,” said Laura Grace, Election Protection Manager at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Officials must do better to plan for high turnout and invest in better equipment and training so that voters do not face unnecessary burdens to exercise their right to vote in 2020.”
According to Election Protection’s report, voters in 2018 faced widespread attempts at voter suppression and disenfranchisement across the country – obstacles that made voting more difficult or impossible. Election Protection kept track of the top barriers to the vote in 2018, which included: long lines due to poor staffing, insufficient materials, and faulty voting machines problems; aggressive voter registration purges or failure to process applications; poor poll-worker training; restrictive voting identification requirements; and failure to receive or count absentee ballots. The root causes of these barriers are burdensome and arbitrary voting laws and policies, lack of planning and investment by election administration, and racism and xenophobia.
As the 2018 elections process winds down and run-offs are completed, Election Protection will issue a final report that includes state-specific reports on the 2018 midterms. Election Protection partners will continue to engage with election officials and lawmakers to advocate for policies and practices that remove barriers to voting and ensure that all voters can exercise their right to vote without undue burden.
View the full report here.
About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition of more than 100 partners, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines: 866-OUR-VOTE (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 844-YALLA-US (844- 925-5287) administered by the Arab American Institute – a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers help 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 Action Network, 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.
About the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, 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. Now in its 55th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
Derrick Robinson, Lawyers’ Committee, [email protected], 202-662-8317