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Civil rights group fielding thousands of calls on its national “election protection hotline” (Updated)

In a 1:00 p.m. briefing, Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law detailed several examples of Election Day problems reported to the group thus far from voting sites around the country.

Some of the incidents, Clarke said, were likely to lead to litigation later today. Among the issues reported:

  • precincts in Georgia (particularly in Spalding and Morgan Counties) in which voting machines were not properly “calibrated” — thus making them unusable — and paper ballots used as a back-up were in short supply;
  • at least two polling sites in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that opened several hours late;
  • reports of potential voter intimidation at Orange County, Florida in which a group of trucks was parked in front of a polling site with the apparent intent of discouraging voters from entering;
  • another Florida incident in which two men claiming to be law enforcement deputies had placed themselves outside a polling site and were alleged to be intimidating voters;
  • robocalls in multiple locations targeting voters with false information telling them to “stay safe and stay home”;
  • complaints of malfunctioning voting machines in Louisiana that were allegedly defaulting a voter’s presidential selection to the first name on the ballot;
  • reports of a private Facebook page in Green Bay, Wisconsin spreading the false rumor that the local mayor had “rigged” the election; and
  • reports of significant delays at several precincts in Franklin County, Ohio.

Overall, Clarke said the more than 100,000 calls received thus far during this fall’s election has been very high and represented more than the group fielded throughout the calendar years 2016.


Complaints were received about this individual placing himself near the entrance to a polling place in Williamsport, PA. Image: Twitter account of Kristen Clarke

5:00 p.m. UPDATE:

In a late afternoon media call, Clarke provided a new series of updates on complaints received from around the country.

As a general matter, Clarke said she was encouraged by the fact that reports of troubles have been “isolated and sporadic.” Among the reports received this afternoon:

  • the intimidating presence of a man dressed in military-like garb in Williamsport, Pennsylvania;
  • voters in York County, Pennsylvania being denied language assistance to which they are entitled;
  • an intimidating presence of law enforcement officers (including some on horseback) at multiple sites in Denver, Colorado;
  • word from Suffolk County, New York that what appeared to be the effigy of the corpse of one of the presidential candidates was on display near a polling site;
  • some Missouri voters being quizzed by officials about their COVID-19 status;
  • voters at the Philadelphia sites that opened several hours late being given provisional ballots to vote without adequate explanation that would have allowed them to fill them in completely.

Clarke also reported progress on resolving problems identified earlier in the day in Georgia where voting equipment had malfunctioned.

She had no additional word on the situation in Alamance County, where according to news reports, a follow-up march to the event on Saturday that ended in police violence is currently underway.

To contact the Election Protection Hotline, dial 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683). Click here for foreign language numbers and more information.

This is a developing story that will be updated as events warrant.

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