ACLU Hotline To Help Virginia Voters Who Encounter Problems During Presidential Primaries

Affiliate: ACLU of Virginia
February 11, 2008 12:00 am

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ACLU of Virginia
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Civil Liberties Group Wants Poll Workers To Provide Proper Assistance To Voters

RICHMOND, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia will have its hotline open tomorrow for voters who run into problems at the polls during the presidential primaries. The hotline will enable voters to contact someone at the ACLU if they feel they have been illegally denied the right to vote. The ACLU hotline number is 804/644-8080.

The most frequent complaint received by the ACLU is from voters who are not allowed to vote because they are not carrying proper identification. The ACLU encourages voters to bring their IDs to the polls, but if they do not have one, or have forgotten to bring it with them, most are still entitled to vote by completing an Affirmation of Identity form. Because this is a federal election, some voters may be required by federal law to show ID. However, even those voters are permitted to vote by provisional ballot, if they do not have an ID. ACLU experience shows that voters often do not know they have a right to vote without ID and that poll workers often do not inform them of that right.

“Every registrar and poll worker should go into Election Day with the goal of making sure everyone who is qualified to vote has an opportunity to cast a ballot,” said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. “What we frequently hear from voters is just the opposite. They feel like poll workers put obstacles between them and the polling booth.”

Some useful information voters should have:

· Most voters do not need an ID to vote, but may instead sign a form identifying themselves. Voters who registered by mail without providing ID at that time, and are voting in their first federal election in Virginia must show ID. However, if they do not have ID they must be permitted to vote by provisional ballot.

· Poll workers are required to provide assistance to voters who request it, even after the voter has entered the polling booth.

· Voters have a right to have a friend or acquaintance assist them in the polling booth.

· Voters not on the voter rolls still have a right to cast a provisional ballot. It will be determined later if the ballot is to be counted.

· Voters who are in line when the polls close at 7:00 p.m. still have a right to vote.

· Voters who have moved within the state since November 6, 2007 and have not registered at their new address may still vote at their old polling place. (Such voters who have moved since Election Day 2006, but remained within the jurisdiction of the same registrar may also be able to vote at their old polling place. Check with your local registrar to verify your polling place.)

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