Richmond, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia reports that as of noon on Election Day it has received fewer complaints than usual from voters, possibly a reflection of low turnout, but that two problems -- one old and one new -- have cropped up.
The old and most persistent problem is voter identification. Voters in Virginia are required to identify themselves at the polls, but need not show an ID. Although showing an ID facilitates voting, voters who do not have an ID may instead sign an affirmation of identity form in which they confirm that they are who they say they are. They will then be allowed to vote by regular ballot.
Although no voters have yet complained that they have been unable to vote due to ID problems, the ACLU has received complaints about signs in the entrances to voting places that mislead voters with messages such as “Voter ID Required.”
“We’ve seen these misleading signs before,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “Unless voters read the fine print at the bottom indicating that they are not required to have an ID, they are misled into believing they can’t vote. We’ve had voters call us from home after they left the poll to get an ID they didn’t need. We’ve also had individuals who missed voting altogether because they returned too late to vote.”
The second problem, likely exacerbated by redistricting, is registration errors in which voters have been assigned to the wrong voting precinct or their names do not show up on voting lists. The ACLU advises voters whose names are not on the registration list at their polling place to ask a poll worker to contact the registrar’s office, which is likely to have the most complete and up-to-date list. If the registrar confirms that the voter is registered, he or she may vote by regular ballot.
Voters who are not on any lists may still cast a provisional ballot, but their ballot will not be counted until it is confirmed they have properly registered to vote. It will not be counted at all if the person has not registered.
“Fairfax County admitted yesterday that there may be more than 2,000 voters assigned to the wrong precinct due to computer error,” said Willis. “And this morning we received a complaint from a voter in Henrico County who was told he had to cast a provisional ballot when his name did not appear on the voter rolls at his precinct. In the Henrico case, poll workers should have contacted the registrar.”
Voters with questions or problems may call the ACLU of Virginia Election Day Hotline at 804-644-8080.
Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, 804-644-8022