Election Day hotlines and “Voter Empowerment Cards” availableRICHMOND, VA -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP have established hotlines for voters who run into problems on Election Day and are distributing informational cards describing voters’ rights at the polls.
The decision to inform voters of their rights and to provide legal assistance stems from the experiences of the NAACP and the ACLU in recent years. Both groups objected to the posting of armed police officers at the polls in Chesterfield in 2004, and last year joined forces to put pressure on the Chesterfield registrar to count the votes of persons who had applied to register at DMV but whose applications were not forwarded to the registrar.
Voters from across the state routinely complain that they have been turned away from polling places because they do not have identification with them. Under Virginia law, voters do not need to be carrying identification when they show up at the polls, although such voters may be asked to sign an affirmation of identity form.
In recent years, the ACLU has received complaints from voters who were sent home because they were wearing buttons or t-shirts with political messages. While Virginia election law prohibits “electioneering” in polling places, this refers only to attempts to persuade voters to take a stand for or against something currently on the ballot. Other social or political messages worn as clothing or an accessory should be allowed in polling places.
Voters are sometimes turned away because their names do not appear on the voter registration rolls. Every voter has a right to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day even if his or her name is not on the voter rolls. It will later be determined if they were properly registered or not. If it turns out the registration glitch was the fault of the state, then the vote will be counted.
The double-sided, pocket-sized "voter empowerment" cards inform voters of their rights under Virginia law once they reach the polls. The hotline will enable voters to contact someone at the NAACP or the ACLU on Election Day if they feel they have been illegally denied the right to vote. The NAACP hotline number is 804/321-5678. The ACLU number is 804/644-8080.
Copies of the voter empowerment card can be downloaded at http://acluva.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/20061102-Voter-Hot-Line-and-Cards-2006.pdf. They will also be available at the ACLU and NAACP offices Friday afternoon, November 3.
ACLU of Virginia
804/644-8080 or 804/399-4191
King Salim Khalfani Executive Director Virginia State Conference NAACP 804/ 321-5678