ACLU announces Election Day hotline
The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia will answer questions from voters who encounter problems at the polls on Election Day, and is prepared to advocate on behalf of those whose rights have been abridged. The ACLU hotline number is 804.644.8080. E-mails sent to email@example.com will also be answered. The ACLU of Virginia has operated a joint Election Day hotline with the Virginia NAACP for the last 10 years.
“Voting shouldn’t be confusing,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis, “but problems crop up every year. Most stem from a combination of voters not knowing their rights and poll workers not being as forthcoming or knowledgeable as they should be.”
“So, when a voter forgets to bring an ID, and the poll official says go home and get one, a critical piece of information is missing-that you don’t have to have an ID to vote, but you can sign an Affirmation of Identity form and vote anyway. A voter who knows to ask for the form is more likely to get to vote than a voter who does not. ”
Last year’s elections occurred just after the State Board of Elections adopted a policy preventing voters from wearing political apparel in polling places. The ACLU sued on behalf of voters who were affected, and the General Assembly changed the law. Voters may now wear campaign buttons, stickers and other apparel expressing a political view.
Advice the ACLU will be giving to voters is likely to include what to do if:
- they have lost or do not have identification with them
- they are told they are not on the registration rolls after arriving at the polls
- they make a mistake while completing their ballot
- their vote is challenged by someone else
- they cannot physically access the polling place
- they are told they cannot vote because they are wearing political attire
Voter Empowerment Cards
The ACLU of Virginia has already distributed more than 35,000 pocket-sized cards describing voters’ rights. The Voters’ Rights Cards, available in English and Spanish, may be viewed or downloaded at www.acluva.org, or picked up at the ACLU office in Richmond, 530 East Main Street, Suite 310, Richmond.