Voting Rights and the Midterms (ep. 20)

November 1, 2018
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With the midterm elections only a few days away, voting rights advocates have been working furiously to ensure that the result will be the product of a free and fair election where everyone eligible to vote is able to do so. Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, discusses the state of the vote in 2018 and the biggest challenges and opportunities for voting rights this election season.

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LEE ROWLAND
[00:04] I’m Lee Rowland. From the ACLU, welcome to: At Liberty, the podcast where we discuss the most pressing civil rights and civil liberties topics of our time. Today, voting rights in the midterms.

We are on the cusp of a consequential midterm election, and all eyes will soon be on the results. In the lead up to election day, voting rights advocates have been working furiously to ensure that result will be the product of a free and fair election — to get us as close as we can to a nationwide election where everyone eligible to vote can vote and that everyone who does vote casts a ballot that counts. Today, we’re delighted to welcome Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, back into the studio. Dale is one of these guardians of democracy working behind the scenes to make sure your vote counts. He’s here to give us the latest on the state of the vote and he'll walk us through the biggest voting rights challenges and successes playing out in these midterms.

Dale, thank you for coming back to talk to us. We're sitting here less than a week out from the midterm elections. What would you say is the status of Americans’ rights to vote at this moment in time? Are we going to see a free and fair election next week?

DALE HO
Well, we definitely have more controversies at the last minute with respect to voter access this year than in any election that I can remember, with perhaps the exception of the 2012 election, when, really, this whole wave of activity — trying to make registration harder, trying to cut back on early voting, trying to make it harder to vote on Election Day — really began. That period, 2011, 2012, saw more than two dozen restrictions on voting enacted before the presidential election. And, you know, I remember that time, and I remember it being a mad scramble. I mean, you were there too, Lee, so you know —

LEE
[02:08] Indeed.

DALE
— what it was like. The last two elections since then — 2014 and 2016 — were obviously not without controversy. There was a lot of stuff happening in those elections, too. Most of the laws that we were challenging during that period were things that were enacted around the time of the 2012 election. What's really unique here in 2018 is that we're seeing, what feels to me, like a new wave of activity. And, as a result more last-minute emergency-related election litigation than I can remember.

LEE
Wow.

DALE
But, when I look at 2018 it's remarkable for the amount of enthusiasm and energy, particularly for a midterm election. I mean, you're seeing early voting rates in some states that are on par with or surpassing, even, 2016, which was a presidential election. So, that in and of itself is really remarkable. It's a testament to how energized the electorate is, and that's, I think, a very good sign for the vibrancy of our democracy. But, on the other hand, we are seeing more controversies about voter access than I've seen in at least six years.

LEE
Let's talk about some of the controversies. What are the states or the races that voting rights advocates really have their eyes on right now?

DALE
Well, what I think is really interesting — and maybe it shouldn't be surprising — is that if you look at a heat map of where these controversies are happening and you juxtapose it with a map of where are there competitive statewide contests at the top of the ticket — whether for Senate, states that are seen as pivotal to control of the Senate, or states that have closely contested gubernatorial elections — there's almost a perfect match. Right, so you see states like Arizona seeing last-minute litigation over laws that prohibited people from returning an absentee ballot for anyone other than a member of their immediate family.

We had a case and a settlement about the state's compliance with the federal motor voter law. You look at a state like Missouri where there have been two cases ongoing about first the voter I.D. law, and the affidavit that people have to sign if they don't have I.D., and then our case about the level of public education that the state is doing about the I.D. law to make sure that voters know what they have to bring with them to the polls, and what the options are if they don't have one of the forms of I.D. that the law requires. North Dakota — very closely contested Senate race there, and the new voter I.D. law which prohibits people from using an I.D. that doesn't have a residential address on it, which has a tremendous impact on Native American communities because people who live on reservations frequently don't have residential street addresses and their I.D.s reflect that absence of a residential address.

[04:58] States like Georgia, states like Florida…These are all states with very close Senate or gubernatorial races and I don't think it's an accident or a coincidence that these controversies are happening where the elections are close. I think the people who want to restrict voting rights know they get more bang for their buck in terms of potentially trying to tilt the outcome of an election if they pass these laws where the elections are tight.

LEE
You mentioned that you hadn't seen this number of restrictions since 2012. That’s not that many years ago.

DALE
No [laughs].

LEE
It sounds like this is somewhat recent phenomenon--

DALE
— Yeah.

LEE
— at least the way you put it. Why now? Why in the last 10 years have repressive voting tactics become a partisan election tool?

DALE
Well, it really is in the last ten years. Because, you know, after the 1992 and 1996 elections, when Clinton won, it's not like the Republicans suddenly turned towards restricting voting rights. When Bush won in 2000 and 2004 the Democrats didn't do that. This really became…

LEE
And they had some hanging chads they might have had reason to be angry about, right?

DALE
Yeah, I mean, you... look, the losers of elections are always going to complain about things. But, Florida was quite the meltdown and, I mean, we're still dealing with the aftermath of that, as the machines that we purchased after the 2000 election are now on the fritz and aging out. And you're seeing these reports in places like Texas where they're actually switching votes. I mean, I don't about you, but, like, you know, if you have an iPad that's more than, like, three years old that thing kind of stops working, right? Now, this technology is like 15 years old at this point. So, so we're seeing some problems.

But, your question about why are we seeing this over the last decade? Um, the 2008 election, the results there, were a manifestation of the demographic changes that the country is undergoing. You had young people turning out at a higher rate than they had since 1992. You had people of color as more than a quarter of the eligible electorate for the first time in our nation's history.

We elect our nation's first Black president, and then suddenly we hear… the problem isn't “we don't have enough turnout.” It’s “we have too much. We have too many people getting into elections. We have cheating going on.” It's “there's fraud and there's something illegitimate about that result, and we need to cut back on voter access.” And then suddenly, you see this wave of laws before the 2012 election — more than two dozen that make either registration or the act of casting a ballot harder. And that's what we've been contending with ever since. This used to not be so much of a partisan issue. It's not that the Democrats and Republicans agreed on voting rights. There were, of course, many things that they disagreed on. But, one basic principle there was a consensus about was that democracy is better served when more people participate. And that consensus has unfortunately since the 2008 election... that... it has broken down.

LEE
[07:42] Have you seen anyone in favor of the kind of measure that would shrink the electorate, back to these old days, actually be honest about that? That is, are there people who are saying, “We just have too many people voting?”

DALE
I mean you do see that from time to time. You know, there's a guy, a commentator on Fox Business, John Stossel, who said quite explicitly around the time of the 2012 election, you know, “We don't want more people to vote. People say young people should vote but we don't want young people to vote, young people don't know anything. They don't know what's good for them so they shouldn't be voting in as large numbers as, as everyone else.”

And, you go back to the, you know, early 80s, even, and you hear — I think for the first time in the sort of modern conservative movement — this notion that, you know, good government groups are not in lockstep with conservative goals because they favor more participation. But we really see it taking new and ugly shape, I think, in the last decade.

LEE
So, for those of us who do think a healthy democracy depends on as much of our electorate voting as possible — and being able to vote as possible — what are voting rights advocates doing, what are activists on the ground doing, to push back against some of these barriers? So, you mentioned, for example, North Dakota. The Supreme Court blessed this voter I.D. law that is known to have dramatic negative impacts on Native Americans in particular, who don't have traditional residential addresses, for the polls.

DALE
Right.

LEE
Is that it? Is that the ballgame? Does that mean that Native American voters are going to be disenfranchised systematically in North Dakota?

DALE
[09:22] Not at all. I mean the litigation is just one piece of the puzzle. And while it's been unsuccessful for purposes of the 2018 election… yeah, and I should note, you know, the litigators who were working on this, did a tremendous job and, you know, kept this law from being enforced in the 2016 election. But, you know, we're only one part of the puzzle, and activists on the ground are doing a lot to try to make sure that Native American voters are aware of what the requirements are. And the tribes themselves are doing incredible work printing new I.D.s for people so that they can go to the polls and have the forms of identification that North Dakota requires under law. So, assigning residential addresses, really, just in the last week before the election. Because if you go to a reservation, a lot of people, their homes don't have street address numbers and names.

LEE
Not at all.

DALE
Right? You have to get those things assigned, even, before you can even print the I.D. right now. So it's a tremendous lift. I'm not going to say that all is well and everything is going to be fixed, but the people on the ground are really doing heroic, heroic work to try to make sure that as many people who want to participate can.

LEE
The New York Times had a remarkable story about exactly that, where — it really stuck in my mind — they said that, the, one of the tribes had a printer to print up these new residence cards that physically melted from the speed at which they were running

DALE
Right, right.

LEE
New I.D. cards for residents.

DALE
Get those people a new printer.

LEE
Yes, somebody out there, they're looking for you. So, what about these other states? What about Arizona, that wasn't informing voters about the registration options. What about the lack of public education in Missouri? Are, are there voting rights activists stepping into the breach to make sure that people know about this in advance of Tuesday's vote?

DALE
[11:10] I mean, we're doing what we can at the ACLU. With respect to Arizona, you know, we found really serious problems with the state's noncompliance with the federal motor voter law. This is something that flies under the radar. What we saw in Arizona and in Missouri — just simple noncompliance with federal law requiring you to provide voter registration services — doesn't get much attention and has a tremendous impact. So in Arizona -

LEE
And, can I ask, you said “motor voter...” So, when you say provide these registration opportunities, that means at the DMV, right? When you go get your license or something?

DALE
Well, more than that, I, we use motor voter for short because the National Voter Registration Act, which it's a reference, is most famous for voter registration at DMVs. But it also requires voter registration services be provided at public assistance offices. So in Arizona, for example, we discovered that Arizona was failing to do that. We were able to settle that issue without a lawsuit and require — under the terms of that settlement agreement, Arizona is required to inform about 280,000 public assistance recipients who didn't receive voter registration services, that they failed to do so, and gave them voter registration forms.

So, that was great. We got that solved, at least in terms of getting those people registration forms before the voter registration deadline. We found another problem in Arizona which unfortunately we weren't able to fix. And, it's that people who were changing their address at the DMV weren't having their addresses updated for voter registration purposes. The state’s supposed to do that under the National Voter Registration Act, they weren't doing it, according to the state's own representations, that affected over 300,000 people who had changed their addresses at the DMV. The state wasn't willing to settle with us on that issue. We had to go to court and the court unfortunately denied any relief before the elections, said it was just too late. So, we'll continue to litigate that issue after the election, but unfortunately there are 300,000 people who changed their driver's license information at the DMV in Arizona whose voter registrations may be out of date.

LEE
[13:12] You mentioned in your list of states to watch, uh, both Georgia and Kansas.

DALE
Yes.

LEE
It's my understanding that in Georgia and Kansas, in both states, the current secretary of state is running for another statewide position...

DALE
That’s correct.

LEE
...governor, in both states.

DALE
That's correct.

LEE
In that situation, as the current secretary of state in those respective states, do they still have the constitutional duty of overseeing and certifying that election, and is that common?

DALE
So, in both states, the secretary of state's running for governor — as you know Brian Kemp in Georgia, Kris Kobach in Kansas — and in both states they are overseeing the elections. Particularly in Georgia, Brian Kemp has said he will not recuse himself from any aspect of the elections process, including if there is a recount over his gubernatorial race.

LEE
Wow.

DALE
It's pretty remarkable. I mean, I think, most Americans, would, if you were watching, you know, the World Series last week and Dave Roberts, the manager of the Dodgers, were calling balls and strikes behind home plate, I think most people would probably say that's probably not the optimal system…

LEE
It feels a little off.

DALE
… for the World Series.

Right? But for some reason, we let this happen with our elections and our democracy. So, it's not a good practice. Most of the countries in the world that have democracies have nonpartisan election administration not administered by candidates overseeing their own elections. That's probably the best practice. Unfortunately, it's relatively common here in the States.

LEE
Are you worried that, in either of those states, that the fact that the secretary of state is in charge of those elections could end up with an invalid result? Does it affect, if nothing else, the perception that those are free and fair elections?

DALE
Well, I think it obviously affects the perception. How could it not?

LEE
Right.

DALE
But, you know, I'm not going to say that anyone in particular has violated particular rules to inure to their own advantage. But, it's hard not to imagine that when you're the secretary of state and you have to make some judgment calls about when registration should be deemed valid, when voters should be purged, which votes should be counted, that your own self-interest is not going to play a factor into that. I mean you look at Kansas. The gubernatorial primary there was decided by fewer than 400 votes. There were a lot of questions about what was happening in terms of election administration there. Absentee ballots that were perceived to have a signature mismatch, for example, more than 100 of those were rejected in Johnson County, which was a stronghold of Kris Kobach’s opponent, the sitting governor Governor Colyer. The Johnson County election administrator was appointed by Kris Kobach. Meanwhile, in Sedgwick County, the second largest county in Kansas after Johnson County, which was a Kobach stronghold, not a single ballot was rejected on that basis. And again, the elections commissioner there was appointed by Kobach.

In Georgia, you know, we have the... I mean it's remarkable. There's audio of the Secretary of State, Brian Kemp, running for governor saying that he's concerned that everyone in the state might exercise their right to vote.

LEE
[16:30] I heard that, yeah.

DALE
That's almost a direct quote from him. And then so when you see the wide range of measures that he's engaged in — purging voters for not voting for a few elections, putting applications in suspense if there is a single typo in the person's registration application, like a, like a misplaced hyphen or something like that, one letter missing so that there's not an exact match between that person's registration and their DMV records, rejecting absentee ballots for a perceived signature mismatch, which is something that we sued over, without giving voters necessarily notice and an opportunity to contest the rejection of their ballots — it's hard to see something like that and not think to yourself that that's a candidate trying to structure the rules of the election in a way that he thinks is going to inure to his own benefit.

LEE
Sure. And it's hard to see those as administrative accidents when the guy’s on tape saying, you know, our electorate is worse when more people vote. He’s saying the quiet part loud.

DALE
He's saying, he's concerned, that more people are going to vote, and every action that he's taking on voter access is one that restricts access.

LEE
OK. So, let's shift to a counterweight to that upsetting reality. In addition to voting rights affecting the outcome on the ballots, I know that voting rights themselves are actually on the ballot in a few states.

DALE
--yes.

LEE
--tell us where voters will get to weigh in on the expansion of voting rights themselves.

DALE
Right. I think this election's remarkable not just for the number of controversies on voting rights, but in terms of the number of opportunities that voters have to enact pro voter reforms. In fact, I don't think there's been a single election in recent history with more positive voter reform measures on the ballot that voters can choose for themselves.

And the ACLU’s supporting five. First, there's the amendment to Florida's constitution that would restore voting rights to about 1.3 million people who have a conviction but have served all of the conditions of their sentence, including finishing their parole. They're back in our communities as co-workers, as parents of students in the same schools with everyone else. And they're just looking for a second chance to become full members of civic society. That could be the greatest single act of expanding the franchise of any act since the voting age was lowered to 18.

LEE
[18:53] And are you willing to say if you're optimistic about the outcome?

DALE
I'm cautiously optimistic about this. This is something that has bipartisan support across the ideological spectrum. We've seen sheriffs come out in favor of it, we've seen members of religious communities come out in favor of it in Florida. The polling has been consistently good. It's a heavy lift, though, let's be honest. You need 60 percent of the electorate in order to amend the constitution in Florida, and it's hard for 60 percent of the public to agree on anything.

LEE
It's really something that at a moment where such so much of the conversation is centered on restrictions on the right to vote, we're on the cusp of re enfranchising 1.3 plus million people. It's, it's really a phoenix rising from the ashes kind of moment.

DALE
It would be amazing. I mean, I don't think people understand the magnitude of this. Florida’s just one of four states where if you commit a single felony you're disenfranchised for life. And one out of 10 adults in the state - one out of 10.

LEE
Yeah.

DALE
You know, I mean literally the electorate's been decimated in Florida.

LEE
Yeah, and I understand the racial impacts make those numbers even higher.

DALE
It, it’s staggering for African-Americans, it's more than 20 percent. It's almost 30 percent of African-American men in the state. I mean, you know, social scientists say that voting is a communal act, that you're more likely to vote when members of your family. your community, your peer group vote. And, when you think about what kind of effect that has, particularly in African-American communities. I mean, the depressive effect on civic participation reaches beyond those who are directly disenfranchised.

LEE
Yeah, if one out of three Black dads and uncles and cousins don't vote, that's birdshot through the community.

DALE
[20:33] I mean it's,extremely disempowering, right? You know in addition to Florida, there's a ballot measure in Michigan, which would bring Michigan into the 21st century on voting.

It encompasses a number of reforms — automatic registration, registration on Election Day. If you have the right paperwork, early voting, no excuse absentee voting — so you can vote by mail for any reason. Most states have one of these reforms. Michigan is in a small minority of states that has none of them. And, it also has the longest advanced registration deadline in the country — 30 days.

LEE
Oof.

DALE
Which, I think, most social scientists think is probably the single issue that depresses turnout when people can't register or update their registrations just as the campaign's getting hot and is getting a lot of media attention.

LEE
Right.

DALE
Michigan was obviously the closest state in the 2016 presidential contest. It was decided by about 10,000 votes. The vote by mail and Election Day registration components of the reform package by themselves each could be expected to increase turnout by maybe 200,000 votes.

LEE
Mhm.

DALE
So, you're talking about a massive, massive change in Michigan - and one other thing that I think is great about this too is that people are sometimes worried about hacking and interfering tampering with the results of elections. Well, one way to make sure that that doesn't happen is to double check after the election and conduct an audit. Most states don't do this. It’s pretty remarkable.

LEE
It is.

DALE
And just briefly, three other measures that the ACLU is supporting, one on nonpartisan redistricting in Utah, one on automatic voter registration in Nevada, and one on election day registration in Maryland.

LEE
[22:17] I'll give you another chance to say that state. Nevada? Did you mean Nevada, Dale?

DALE
Oh, yeah, I'm sorry, I didn't mean Nevada. I meant Nevada.

LEE
There you go.

DALE
Totally different state.

LEE
I think people mostly, understand where early voting is, same day registration, it's right there in the title. Um, but, can you explain for folks who may not understand exactly what it means in practical terms, what is automatic registration and what does it look like in practice?

DALE
Automatic registration means that when you interact with the state, say at the DMV, and you provide your information, you're gonna be automatically registered to vote, unless you say I don't want to be registered to vote today. It creates an opt-out system. What we have today in most places is an opt-in system. You know, you go and you get your driver's license, and then you have to take an additional step. And it might not sound like —

LEE
That is if people remind you that step is there.

DALE
— If people are complying with the motor voter law, which Arizona and Missouri weren't - But, um, that difference, opt in versus opt out, it actually makes a huge, huge difference in terms of the number of people who end up registering to vote.

LEE
Absolutely.

DALE
I mean you go to the DMV, you're there for hours, you want to get in and out of there —

LEE
Sir, do you want to do one more bit of paperwork?

DALE
— as quickly as possible. But just generally speaking, opt-out systems generally produce a lot more participation than opt-in systems, and Oregon was the first state to do this. They adopted the first automatic registration system in the country and they saw the largest, I think, if I remember correctly, increase in voter participation between the 2012 and 2016 elections. Pretty remarkable, given that I don't think there were particularly competitive elections in Oregon in 2016. So, you know, it just seems like if there's a simple reform, that would also bring us in line with most Western democracies, where the burden of registration is on the government. rather than on the individual.

It just makes sense.

LEE
Yeah.

DALE
It also just keeps our registration rolls up to date. I mean, people who talk about election security say, we don't want dead people voting, we don't want people who've moved voting, and things like that. Well, if we had a system where government records were automatically connected to voter registration systems, and updated in something close to real time, as real time as the government can get it —

LEE
Right.

DALE
Um, that would, get us closer both to improving access, and also making sure that the rules are up to date, and we don't have these out-of-date registrations that I know that some people on the right are concerned about.

LEE
[24:35] And there’s precedent for this, right? I mean, one of the best arguments I've heard for automatic registration, is basically the government does this with all men for the draft, right? For selective service. There is a constantly updated list, you don't hear about a lot of dead people getting their draft notifications, right? So.

DALE
Right.

LEE
This is something that can be done.

DALE
It can be done. Now, you know, I do want to make clear that, we think it's very important that, uh, when you establish these systems, you make very clear to people what the eligibility requirements are. The last thing we want is for people who are ineligible, you know, because they're under 18, or because they're not citizens, or because they're disqualified in their state, because of a felony conviction, or something like that, to inadvertently end up on the rolls.

LEE
There's one last thing I'd like to ask you about, uh, even as you've been monitoring events across the country —

DALE
— Yes.

Lee
— And trying to help keep the vote for the midterms secure. You also are barreling towards a court trial next week —

DALE
That’s right, I have a trial starting on Monday.

LEE
About the census, right? Tell us about this.

DALE
Sure. We have a case that’s going to trial on Monday, November 5. So the day before election day, in Manhattan, it is a challenge to the Trump administration's decision to include a question on citizenship in the 2020 census. That's something that we haven't seen since 1950. Basically, what it will mean is a door-to-door government inquiry of the citizenship status of every member of every household in America.

It’s something that the Census Bureau has vigorously opposed for decades, under both Republican and Democratic administrations, because the understanding is that if you have questions like that, particularly in today's climate, it's going to reduce the number of people who participate in the census. And, if we don't have an accurate headcount, that will be incredibly problematic. Federal resources are distributed based on headcount, and political representation, apportionment in Congress, seats in the House of Representatives, seats in state legislatures, are divided based on total population. And, if you get an undercount, particularly of immigrant communities and other communities of color, as a result of the citizenship question, what it means is that those communities are going to be deprived of the federal resources and the representation to which they are entitled under the Constitution.

LEE
[26:53] I remember progressive advocates pushing for census officials to ask more information about, for example, LGBTQ individuals in the census. And that was thought of empowering, to have more information about individuals. Why is citizenship different in your view?

DALE
Well, citizenship is a sensitive question for a lot of people. If you're not a citizen, particularly if you are an undocumented person, there's a lot of concern in communities that, if that information is asked of you from the government it could be used against you later and be used as a basis for removing you from the country. And it's not just non-citizens themselves. A lot of people live in mixed status households and there's a concern that if there's one noncitizen in the household, maybe the household won't respond to the census. One thing we've learned from our litigation is that the Census Bureau itself predicts conservatively that if you have this question, it could mean a decline in census participation by close to 6 percent of households that have one noncitizen or more in the household.

LEE
And if I heard you correctly, you just said the Census Bureau itself —

DALE
Yes.

LEE
Estimates that kind of downturn. Why on earth would the Census Bureau have decided to include a question that it knew would be likely to reduce participation?

DALE
Well, the Census Bureau didn't decide to do it, they were ordered to do it by the secretary of commerce Wilbur Ross. What Wilbur Ross says is that, in December of 2017, the Department of Justice asked the Census Bureau if they would be willing to include a citizenship question on the census because they needed to enforce the Voting Rights Act. Never mind the fact that since the Voting Rights Act was enacted in 1965, we haven't collected citizenship status from every household in this manner ever, and it's never hampered the Department of Justice's Voting Rights Act enforcement efforts.

[28:49] I mean, leave all of that aside, what we learned through the course of our litigation is that Wilbur Ross, shortly after becoming commerce secretary in the spring of 2017, immediately ordered his staff to start trying to find a way to add this question to the census. So, he testified in Congress that the process was initiated by the Department of Justice in 2017, that his consideration of this issue was solely in response to the Department of Justice's request. But he had no communication with the White House about it. All of that was false. He was working on this months earlier, and he did so with the input and direction of Steve Bannon, who was then, obviously, the president's chief political adviser in the White House.

LEE
Would it be fair to say this shows an intent to use the census, not so much as a building block of democracy, but as an enforcement tool?

DALE
Well, I mean, that's not totally clear.

LEE
OK.

DALE
What is clear is that the rationale being put forth, that we need this to enhance democracy, is a pretext, that the opposite is the goal, to undermine democracy, which depends upon a fair and accurate count of all communities: adults and children, citizens and non-citizens, that's what the Constitution calls for.

There is an uglier concern, though, that people have raised, and that, you know, at the start of this process, I kind of dismissed a little bit. Because, you know, we want people to participate in the census because we want to get an accurate count. But, here's the thing. What the Department of Justice says is, we need block-by-block information of the number of citizens on it. We need that to enforce the Voting Rights Act. We need to get that from the Department of Commerce and from the Census Bureau and to publish that information. So, what the game plan here apparently is, is for every block, in every community in America, to state the proportion of citizens and non-citizens living on that block. Now, some blocks have a single family, or even a single person on them. And it's not entirely clear to us how the census bureau was going to keep that information confidential, as it's required to under law. So, one of two things has to happen here: either the Census Bureau’s got to keep that information confidential, and in which case the Department of Justice is never going to get the information they claim that they wanted, which supposedly triggered this entire process, revealing that the whole thing is a sham.

LEE
[31:15] Right.

DALE
Or, they're going to publish that information. And then, I, you know, I think people's concerns, I understand them.

LEE
Let's end on a practical note. Let's say someone goes to vote, either during early voting, or on Tuesday, and has a problem. They don't show up on the rolls. Any tips for folks out there about how to respond to any issues on Election Day, to make sure that everyone possible can cast a ballot that counts?

DALE
The first thing I would say is, don't leave the polling place, try to get the issue resolved there. If you're told that you're not on the rolls, don't leave and hope that you're gonna make a phone call, or get that thing resolved. Demand a ballot. Even if you're not on the rolls and you can't cast a regular ballot, you're entitled to a provisional ballot. And if you are in fact eligible, and should have been on the books, but there was some kind of mistake, that ballot should be counted.

If you have a problem with your machine, don't just cast the vote and then hope it'll get sorted out later. Once that vote is cast, it's going to be, I think, impossible to do something about which offices, or which candidates you've selected. So, try to get that issue sorted out, try to get the help of the poll workers there.

If you can't get an issue resolved immediately while you're there, the best thing you can do is call the National Election Protection Hotline 1-866 our vote: OUR-VOTE. It's a program run by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights that a lot of different organizations, civil rights organizations, and volunteer lawyers participate in, including ACLU lawyers and ACLU state affiliate lawyers. It’s a hotline that can do intake on problems and try to get those problems resolved on election day.

LEE
And, are they able to take intake calls and languages besides English?

DALE
Oh, yes, absolutely.

LEE
Dale, thank you so much for giving us a snapshot of our voting rights in action and good luck at trial next week.

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