As Election Day nears, we are seeing all sorts of shenanigans happening all over the country. First were deceptive phone calls to voters in Florida, Virginia, and Indiana that told voters they could now vote by phone and don’t need to go to the polls. NO ONE IN ANY STATE CAN VOTE BY PHONE!
Next were intimidating billboards placed in predominately African-American and blue-collar neighborhoods in Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Milwaukee that said in big block letters “voter fraud is a felony punishable by up to three and a half years in jail and a $10,000 fine.”
Now there is misinformation given to poll observers recruited by state Republican Party’s about requirements to vote. In New Mexico, a training given by the Sandoval County GOP vice chair stated “that voters can be required to show a physical form of identification if that’s requested by two polling place officials from different political parties. Trainees also were told that provisional ballots will be required for the nearly 178,000 registered voters who received mailings from elections officials that could lead to them being purged after the 2014 election.” A physical ID is only required if the voter registered by mail and is voting for the first time. And those that received the mailing can vote a regular ballot unless they have moved and haven’t updated their registration address.
This week we heard of more polling observers receiving misleading information in Iowa and Wisconsin. In Wisconsin, poll watchers recruited by the state GOP are receiving training telling them that those convicted of a felony can’t vote. That is untrue. If the felon has served their time and completed probation and fines, they are eligible to vote. The training also does not provide observers with the complete list of documents a voter can use to prove residency.
In Iowa, poll watchers are being told to watch for voters that show up to vote that do not show a photo ID even though Iowa does not have a voter ID law. The training video tells poll watchers to be on the lookout for voters that are allowed to vote without showing a voter ID and to contact the legal hotline if they witness it. Only first time voters must show ID to vote in Iowa or those that register and vote on Election Day. They must show a proof of residency.
All of these are attempts to prevent or intimidate voters from participating in their civic duty in casting a ballot. Scaring voters or preventing them from voting is counter to our American values. The best way to fight back against these tactics is to arm voters with the information they need – where to vote, when to vote, and what they need to bring with them to vote – so that all voters can have their votes counted this election.
If you hear of any attempts to deceive or intimidate voters, call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE or visit 866OURVOTE.org. Now go VOTE!