ACLU of Florida to Distribute Flyers Informing Voters of Their Rights if Challenged at the Polls

Affiliate: ACLU of Florida
November 1, 2004 12:00 am

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ACLU of Florida
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MIAMI – On the eve of a presidential election that is likely to attract a record number of voters to the polls, the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today released a flyer that offers voters guidance on what to do if challenged at the polls on Election Day.

The flyer, “What To Do If You Are Challenged on Voting Day,” contains information for voters on how to respond to challenges and is intended any voter who feels at risk of being targeted by challengers who may question whether they are eligible to vote.

“We are concerned that many voters are not fully aware of their rights when being challenged,” said Rebecca Harrison Steele, director of the ACLU of Florida’s West Central Florida Office. “People must not be deterred from voting or otherwise intimidated by schemes that are designed to discourage them from participating fully in the democratic process.”

State law allows any elector or poll watcher — designated by a political party or candidates — to bring a challenge based on a well-founded belief that a particular voter is ineligible to vote. The law, which is rarely used, is one of several statutes passed after the Civil War to keep African American voters away from the polls.

The ACLU said that it is concerned that the law will be applied in a racially discriminatory manner and may disrupt the voting process.

“The best thing an individual can do to help overcome schemes to intimidate or otherwise prevent them from voting is simple: Go to the polls and vote,” Steele said.

The ACLU recommends the following guidelines if voters are challenged on Election Day:

  • Make sure the person challenging you has the proper credentials. The only people who can challenge you are poll watchers or other voters. Poll watchers must be registered to vote in the county in which the challenge takes place.
  • You cannot be challenged based merely on your appearance, last name, race, or national origin.
  • You are still eligible to vote even if you are registered both in Florida and in another state. The challenger must prove that you actually voted in the other state before you can be ineligible.
  • If you are challenged because your address has changed within the same county, you can still vote. Simply fill out a change of address form in the right precinct for your current address.
  • If you are challenged based on your status as an ex-felon, it may be helpful to bring along your papers showing that your rights have been restored, but it is not necessary. The challenger must show (1) that you were convicted of a felony, and (2) that your rights have not been restored. It is not sufficient for the challenger merely to say that your name matches the list of felons on the central voter database.
  • Even if the poll workers accept the challenge, they must still allow you to vote by a provisional ballot. Don’t be intimidated or discouraged from voting.
  • Challenges must not be allowed to disrupt the normal flow of voting. If a challenger becomes disruptive, ask the official poll workers to remove the challenger.

The ACLU of Florida will distribute the flyers to voters through its 15 volunteer-run chapters across Florida and its statewide Election Protection team of volunteers and attorneys, in addition to providing fliers to voters who contact the ACLU with concerns about this issue.

The flyer is available online at:

For more information on ACLU voter protection efforts, go to /node/9979

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