WASHINGTON, D.C., February 12, 2015 – Today, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee) released a report depicting the obstacles to the ballot box experienced during the 2014 general election season and the work performed by the nonpartisan Election Protection Coalition to help voters respond to undue burdens on the right to vote. The report describes the 2014 voting landscape in which equal access to the franchise was not guaranteed. It also conveys the voter experience and shares compelling stories reported to Election Protection from across the country.
“As I witnessed the problems voters experienced on November 4, 2014, my immediate reaction was that democracy continues to be too hard for many voters,” said Lawyers’ Committee President and Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. “The Election Protection 2014 Report exposes that there is much to do to ensure our electoral system works for all voters. Voting rights champions must keep using innovative ways to engage and educate voters; voters must speak out when their right to vote is in jeopardy; and local legislators and elections officials must aspire to a voting system that ensures maximum inclusion and participation.”
The Report documents a 45% increase in calls from the 2010 midterm election to the 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline, with over 43,000 total calls during the 2014 election season and over 18,000 calls on Election Day alone. Polling places account for 61% of reported voting inquiries to Election Protection, and 24.5% of reported inquiries concerned voter registration. And of the reported obstacles to vote, 26% concerned polling places, 22.9% concerned registration and 10% concerned poll workers. In Texas, over 13% of problems reported by voters were with the state’s stringent voter ID requirement. In Georgia, where nearly 40,000 eligible individuals attempted to register to vote but were inexplicably left off the state’s voter rolls, nearly 45% of voters sought information about voter registration, and nearly 57% of reported problems were with registration. Texas and Georgia were among the top five states by total call volume on Election Day.
“This report is as much about voters’ perseverance to cast a ballot as it is about the problems that marred the midterm Election,” said Lawyers’ Committee Manager of Legal Mobilization and Strategic Campaigns Chris Melody Fields. “Voters and advocates across the country stood strong in the face of the first election since key protections of the VRA were weakened in 2013. As we reflect on the 2014 election, especially the factors that impacted America’s lowest voter turnout in over seven decades, we must continue to be vigilant, removing unnecessary barriers that decrease participation and deploying new strategies to engage voters in our democracy.”