FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Voters Encounter Barriers at the Polls During June 7 Presidential Primary Elections
More than Half of all Calls to Election Protection Received from California Voters
Washington, D.C., June 7, 2016 – The nationwide nonpartisan Election Protection voter hotline, 866-OUR-VOTE, received more than 1,300 calls as voters in California, New Jersey, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and New Mexico made their voices heard during their state primaries. More than half of the calls received were from California voters.
Voters called the hotline throughout the day seeking information and assistance on a range of issues including delayed poll openings, malfunctioning machines, problems with mail-in ballots and inaccurate information communicated by poll workers.
“While California is among a few states across the country taking meaningful action to expand access to the ballot box, including the adoption of automatic voter registration, challenges remain in the way elections are conducted at the local level," said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. "The June 7 primary elections make it clear that more work remains to be done to strengthen our voting process across the country to ensure that all eligible voters are able to successfully cast a ballot on Election Day."
As the primary elections came to a close, the majority of the calls to Election Protection came from California voters. Reports included:
Late Poll Openings: Voters in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties reported that their polling locations were not open at the required 7 a.m. PDT start time.
Vote by Mail Problems: Election Protection received calls from voters in Los Angeles County reporting that they did not receive their requested mail ballots.
Broken Voting Machines and County Technology Issues: Election Protection also received reports regarding non-functioning polling machines and ballot scanners. In addition, voters and Election Protection volunteers experienced problems with the state’s online polling place look-up tool.
Issues with Parking: Election Day monitors associated with Election Protection partner California Common Cause received complaints from voters regarding several polling locations with little to no parking options throughout Los Angeles County.
Provisional Ballot Issue in Contra Costa County: California Voter Foundation, Election Protection, and other election advocates contacted the Secretary of State’s office and county election officials after receiving reports about Contra Costa County’s practice of offering a provisional ballot, instead of a regular ballot, to any voter requesting a replacement mail-in ballot because they had made a mistake. The California Voter Bill of Rights clearly states that voters have: “The right to get a new ballot if you have made a mistake, if you have not already cast your ballot.” After being notified of the County’s practice, the Secretary of State confirmed that the county’s actions were improper and contacted county officials who then informed poll workers of the correct procedure.
While trouble shooting problems, Election Protection volunteers also encountered county offices in California and in Essex County, New Jersey that had voice messages indicating that their offices were closed today.
Election Protection will continue to provide support to voters as they head to the polls during the 2016 primary election season. As the nation prepares for the November 8 general election, it is critical that election officials work with nonpartisan programs, such as Election Protection, to ensure jurisdictions are addressing existing obstacles and are properly prepared to administer elections. Additionally, the Election Protection coalition will work to educate, engage and empower voters by providing information to help ensure that they are able to turn out, participate and vote.
About Election Protection
Election Protection is the nation's largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, led by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Through its suite of hotlines, including the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (866-687-8683) administered by the Lawyers’ Committee, 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682) administered by NALEO Educational Fund, 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683) administered by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC and a dedicated team of trained legal and grassroots volunteers, Election Protection helps all American voters, including traditionally disenfranchised groups, gain access to the polls and overcome obstacles to voting. The coalition has more than 100 partners—including Advancement Project, Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Brennan Center for Justice, Common Cause, League of Women Voters of the United States, NAACP, National Action Network, National Bar Association, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, State Voices, Rock the Vote and Verified Voting Foundation—at the national, state and local levels and provides voter protection services nationwide. For more information about Election Protection and the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline, please visit www.866ourvote.org.