A non-profit, non-partisan coalition of lawyers, law students and community organizations nationwide working under the umbrella of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has launched a campaign called Election Protection, and the center piece of the effort is a toll-free hotline that people can call on election day, if they have problems voting.
The number to call is 866-OURVOTE.
The Lawyers Committee, initially created Election Protection in 2000 because of the irregularities that denied voting rights to millions of Americans, primarily those in minority communities. The campaign was begun to ensure that all voters have the opportunity to participate in the political process, and according to Nick Jones, a lawyer with the he firm of Dewey LeBoeuf who is volunteering his time, there are more problems than people might imagine at local polling places.
“A common (problem) is that in California you are not required to show identification, but you would be surprised at how many polling officers ask for identification, and this happens disproportionately more among minorities and the poor.”
Jones said another problem that crops up frequently is that voting machines don’t work or the polling places don’t open on time.
Election Protection can help in these areas. In addition to the hotline, on election day the campaign will have mobile assistance teams out in the field helping with such challenges.
Jones said the coalition is particularly concerned with this general election in November because they expect more people to come out to vote because of the excitement generated by the candidates. And he knows that long lines (caused by machine malfunctions or administrative snags) will discourage some from voting.
In addition to the election-day activities, the hotline is open now and can help people with questions such where is my polling place? What do I need to take with me to vote? How do I register to vote? What is the deadline?
The Lawyers Committee has also set up a web site that can answer many questions as well, it is www.866vote.org.
In order to vote in the Nov. 4 election, a registration form must be completed, signed and sent to the Los Angeles County Registrar/Recorder Dean Logan at P.O. Box 1024, Norwalk, CA 90651-1024. It must be postmarked no later than Oct. 20.