Stacie B. Burgess
Director of Communications and External Affairs
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
(202) 662-8317/(202) 445-6101 (cell)
As Polls Close on Super Tuesday, Election Protection Received Over 2,000 Calls
Washington, D.C., March 1, 2016 – The nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection voter hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE received more than 2,000 calls as voters in 12 states made their voices heard during the Super Tuesday presidential preference primaries and caucuses. The Hotline received a steady stream of calls throughout the day with voters seeking information as well as assistance on a range of issues resulting from poll worker misinformation, voter ID problems, overcrowded polls, long lines and ballot shortages.
“We received hundreds of calls across the country on our 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from voters who want to participate in our democracy,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “I spoke with one voter for over 20 minutes in Cobb County, Georgia who was not given notice that his polling place was temporarily moved and when he got to the new site, he and many other voters found a dark, unmarked building with no signs of any activity. Our experience on Super Tuesday shows that much work remains to be done to strengthen our voting process across the country.”
As the Super Tuesday primary election closed, the majority of the calls came from Texas and Georgia. Voters from these states reported problems that included:
Poll Worker Misinformation:
- Harris County, TX. Caller’s grandmother is registered as a Republican and went to the Democratic polling site in Houston. A poll worker incorrectly told the voter that she could not vote outside of her party. After requesting the intervention of an election judge, the voter was allowed to vote. The poll worker said that she had been sending people away all day for not being registered to the Democratic party.
Voter ID Problems:
- Tarrant County, TX-TSA Photo ID No Good for Voting. A Department of Homeland Security employee was told that his TSA photo ID was not a valid form of ID. A poll worker made several inquiries with their supervisors and told the voter that he needed to vote using a provisional ballot.
Long Lines and Overcrowding Due to Under Staffing:
- Thomaston Civic Center in Upson County, GA. Election Protection program secures emergency relief for voters by securing an additional hour of voting time. Because of overcrowding, a county official told voters to leave and come back in an hour, causing about 30 to 40 voters to leave. One complaint to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline estimated that she was in line for about an hour and fifteen minutes before she could cast a ballot. She further advised that there were five poll workers who examined voters’ ID and did the initial check-in, and that there were only two poll workers issuing the voting cards. The voter believed that this problem may have been caused by precinct consolidations in the county that occurred earlier this year and that more people were assigned to this polling location than in the past.
Ballot Shortages Polling Places:
- Bell County, Texas. One polling place in Killeen ran out of ballots at about 6 p.m. The voter said that the site had run out of ballots at several points throughout the day. The poll worker had locked the doors on voters who had initially left after being told that there were no more ballots. After Election Protection called county officials, poll workers were called and instructed to let voters back into the polling location, and encouraged to wait while ballots were being delivered.
“Today, hundreds of thousands of voters from Virginia to Alabama to Texas headed to the polls and many called 866-OUR-VOTE to receive information and report problems,” said Marcia Johnson Blanco, co-director of the Voting Rights Project. “As in years past, this election showed the continuing need for Election Protection to provide services year-round to help voters as they prepare to cast ballot.”
Election Protection will continue to provide support to voters as they continue to head the polls during the 2016 presidential primary season. During the primary season, the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline will be live 11 days and provide support to voters in 33 states. As the nation prepares for the November 8 general election, it is critical that we work with election officials across the country to ensure jurisdictions are properly prepared to implement elections. Additionally, the Election Protection coalition will work to educate, engage and empower voters by providing information on their voting rights and what they need to do in order to cast a ballot.
About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (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 a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps 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 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.