Election hotline solves problems for hundreds of voters
From the good people at Democracy North Carolina:
Operators of the national Election Protection hotline — (866-OUR-VOTE) ; Spanish, 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682); Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese and Thai, 1-888-API-VOTE (1-888-274-8683) — say they received over 600 calls fromNorth Carolina voters during the Early Voting period on a wide range of issues, including discriminatory treatment of curbside voters, confusion over ID requirements, illegal electioneering at the polls, broken machines, and false information about voting by phone.
“We could feel the emotional intensity of this election as we answered these calls,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan election watchdog organization that operated the hotline call center during the Early Voting period. “People were anxious to vote and suspicious of perceived barriers. There were many cases where we helped voters overcome problems in order to vote, including mistakes by poll workers that higher level officials eventually fixed.”
The Election Protection initiative, which is sponsored by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law inWashington,DC, provides voters in more than 20 states with the information they need to make their voices heard as well as ensure that their voting rights are protected.
During the Early Voting period, calls to 866-OUR-VOTE were answered by trained volunteers at a call center headquartered at the office of Democracy North Carolina. TheLawSchoolat theUniversityofNorth Carolinawill be staffing the call center on Election Day. Spanish-speaking voters can receive assistance from 888-VE-Y-VOTA (1-888-839-8682).
The hundreds of calls during Early Voting included these examples:
- Voters in Moore Countywere blocked from using Same Day Registration because election officials used the wrong ID requirements.
- A fight between black and white voters inPitt Countythat began as an argument inside the polls spilled over to a nearby gas station and prompted intervention by local police.
- Intense arguments and accusations of harassment between volunteers for opposing campaigns recurred almost daily at polling locations in Durham County.
- A homeless man turned away at a Mecklenburg County location eventually voted after poll workers received new instructions from the county elections director.
- Repeated complaints in Cleveland Countysaid that African American curbside voters were made to wait for long periods and passed over as white poll workers assisted white curbside voters.
- Machine failures in Guilford Countyconfused voters and created long lines.
- Warren Wilson College students in Buncombe Countywere mystified and suspicious about being forced to use provisional ballots (redistricting split their campus between districts).
- Curbside and other voters in several counties complained of being asked to show a voter registration card or photo ID before they were allowed to vote.
- A voter assisting others inWayneCountyreported feeling intimidated by officials and then followed by a sheriff’s car when she drove away from the polling site.
- Voters reported receiving suspicious phone calls or canvassers telling them that they could vote by phone or that the board of elections said they needed to re-register.
Nonpartisan groups have also created a special website that answers questions about where, when and how to vote – www.NCElectionConnection.com. Voters can preview their own ballot, find the nearest Early Voting site, and check their registration status through links at the website.