“Voter Empowerment Cards” available online.RICHMOND , VA -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and the Virginia State Conference of the NAACP will have hotlines open tomorrow for voters who run into problems on Election Day.
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. Spanish-speaking voters who encounter problems should contact the ACLU.
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.
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.
Voters who have registered at DMV have discovered on Election Day that their applications were not processed in time to vote, and voter registrars sometimes make mistakes. All voters have a right to cast a provisional ballot on Election Day even if their names are not on the voter rolls. It will later be determined if they were properly registered.
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.
The double-sided, pocket-sized "voter empowerment cards” inform voters of their rights under Virginia law. The ACLU and NAACP have already distributed over 13,500 cards in English and over 3,000 cards in Spanish to community organizations and concerned voters throughout the commonwealth. Voter empowerment cards in English and Spanish can be downloaded at www.acluva.org.
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022