ACLU of Tennessee Providing Assistance for Voters on Election Day, Distributing Voter Empowerment Cards
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NASHVILLE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee announced today that it is distributing informational cards describing voters’ rights and staffing a hotline for voters who face obstacles at the polls on Election Day.
The double-sided, wallet-sized “voter empowerment” cards and inform voters of their rights under Tennessee law once they reach the polls. The cards are available in English and Spanish.
“The right to vote and to have one’s vote accurately and fairly counted is as fundamental a right as we have in this country. In that spirit, ACLU ‘s goal is to ensure that every eligible voter is able to cast a vote and have it counted,” said Hedy Weinberg, Executive Director of the ACLU of Tennessee. “We are concerned that some voters might be turned away from the polls because they are not fully aware of their rights under Tennessee law. Voters with the ACLU empowerment card in their hands will know their rights and be able to assert them on Election Day.”
The ACLU of Tennessee hotline will enable voters to contact the ACLU on Election Day if they feel they have been illegally denied the right to vote. The hotline number is 615-320-7142. In addition, voters with concerns can contact ACLU’s Voting Rights Project toll-free at 1-877-523-2792.
Based on the Florida experience four years ago, as well as numerous other voting irregularities that have cropped up since, voters’ rights groups from across the country have mobilized in unprecedented force to make sure that Election Day 2004 goes smoothly and that those who have a right to vote will have their votes counted.
“Voters in Tennessee can overcome most obstacles by taking a quick glance at their voter empowerment card or by finding a volunteer to help them outside many polling places,” Weinberg said. “If that is not sufficient, a phone call to the ACLU will help them determine if their rights are indeed being violated and what recourse they have.”
The ACLU of Tennessee is particularly concerned about the following problems voters may face at the polls:
- Ballot security initiatives designed to suppress minority voting;
- Voters turned away without being offered a provisional ballot;
- Inserting phony voters in line at the polls to lengthen the lines and discourage would-be voters;
- Poll watching activities that go beyond mere observation and become harassment;
- Moving polling places on short notice or without sufficient warning; and
- Disinformation campaigns
The ACLU of Tennessee voter empowerment card lists important rights that voters have under Tennessee law, many of which are not widely known. Some examples are:
- Voters have the right to vote if they are in line when the polls close.
- Voters have the right to take time off from work to vote (up to three hours) if their work schedule prevents them from voting while the polls are open. They must notify their employer before noon on November 1.
- Voters have the right to cast a “provisional ballot” even if a poll worker cannot find their name on the list and cannot verify their registration. Before casting their provisional ballot, voters should make sure that they are in the right precinct to help ensure that the vote will count.
- Voters using a paper ballot who make a mistake have the right to receive up to two replacement ballots.
- First time voters who registered by mail and did not bring identification to the poll have the right to cast a provisional ballot.
- Voters who have voted before but do not have identification with them have the right to vote after they complete an affidavit form.
- Voters who have changed their name because of marriage have the right to vote under either name.
- Voters have the right to be free from intimidation or coercion by election officers or any other person.
- Voters with a disability or who have trouble reading or writing are entitled to help inside the voting booth from a friend, relative or poll worker.
- Voters who moved to a new county within 90 days of the election have the right to vote at their old polling place.
- Voters have the right to take up to five minutes in the voting booth if other voters are waiting and up to ten minutes if no other voters are waiting.
Copies of the voter empowerment cards — for individuals or groups — are available without charge through the ACLU of Tennessee. The ACLU of Tennessee card, as well as cards for other states, is online at /node/24957
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