WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, September 9, 2016, leading civil rights organizations comprising the Election Protection Coalition worked in tandem to document egregious violations of voting rights and galvanize support to overcome obstacles to voting. As of 8:30 p.m. EST on Election night, over 35,000 phone calls were placed to the coalition’s voter assistance hotline (866-OUR-VOTE) on Election Day alone, with over 100,000 calls placed during the 2016 election cycle. There were at least 8,000 Election Protection volunteers working on Election Day 2016.
Calls to the hotline documented unlawful photo ID screening across Pennsylvania, while Florida college students reported that poll workers classified their dormitories as hotels and then issued them provisional ballots. In North Carolina, coalition members filed a lawsuit to keep polls opened later after voters were paper ballots in lieu of malfunctioning equipment.
Election Protection Coalition partners reflected as polling sites closed across the country on this day in voter issues:
“Our American electoral system is a work in progress,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Today, we saw a number of issues involving voter intimidation, long lines outside of polling sites, equipment failures, improper application of voter identification requirements, and other issues. More work remains to be done to ensure full access to our democracy. We will use the information obtained from this election cycle to push for positive reforms and to continue our work to combat ongoing voting discrimination and voter suppression.”
“The calls coming through our hotline this election cycle proved the critical importance of in-language resources for our growing Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) electorate,” said Christine Chen, executive director of APIAVote.. “Calls came from over forty states, highlighting the expansive geographic diversity of our community, with concerns about language access, navigating the voting process, and more. This year, AAPI voters capitalized on early voting, with high early voter turnout in states like North Carolina, Florida and Georgia, which demonstrates that our community is taking advantage of our in-language resources like the hotline to access the ballot.”
“There is no excuse in the 21st century for voters to experience long lines because of machine malfunctions, confusion over rules or overt discrimination in voting,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “This election makes clear that Congress and the states must to act immediately to restore the Voting Rights Act and make commonsense reforms to modernize election systems.”
“Through our 1-888-Ve-Y-Vota hotline, we know Latinos headed to the polls today prepared, informed about their rights and ready to make their voices heard at the ballot box,” said Arturo Vargas, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund executive director. “While we were concerned by some reports of voter intimidation, long lines and delays in opening of polling locations, we know that Latino voters remained steadfast in their commitment to casting ballots this election. Working together with the community, partners and the Election Protection Coalition, we were able to address problems in real time, helping ensure that eligible Latino voters who wanted to exercise their right to vote were able to do so in Election 2016.”
“Today, calls to the hotline (1-888-API-VOTE) paint a different picture for the Asian American electorate than in past years as the majority of calls were not about voter intimidation but rather about AAPIs exercising their democratic rights,” said Mee Moua, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “Our hotline was a beacon of information for the community – finding polling locations and providing in-language resources for AAPI voters. Though we will continue to monitor the hotline for reports of voter intimidation in the next several weeks, we are encouraged that our efforts were focused on the opportunity to vote and not about those intending to obstruct it.”