ACLU of Florida Launches Video Poll Monitoring to Document Voter Challenges, Complaints of Voter Harassment

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

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ACLU of Florida
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

View Election Day Video Live Online at www.policeabuse.org

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida today announced that it will be collaborating with the Washington D.C.-based Police Complaint Center to monitor and investigate complaints of voter intimidation on Election Day through videotaped interviews with people who are wrongfully denied the right to vote.

“We want to prevent loss of the right to vote due to incompetent election officials and ensure that every eligible voter is protected against illegal intimidation at the polls on Election Day,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida.

As part of its Election Day efforts, the teams from the ACLU and the Police Complaint Center will monitor polls throughout the state by videotaping interviews with those who have been turned away from the polls as a result of a challenge based on inaccurate information, failure to produce identification in situations where such information is not required and problems with incomplete voter registration lists, or for any other reason.

Wireless web cameras will be used to broadcast live video footage from mobile teams to the Police Complaint Center website (http://www.policeabuse.org) for the duration of the election.

The complaints will then be forwarded to Election Protection attorneys and volunteers – from the ACLU of Florida, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, People for the American Way Foundation and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation – who will be responding to incidents of voter intimidation, vote suppression or election foul-ups at polling sites.

The ACLU-Police Complaint Center teams also will document by videotape police presence at or around polling locations. The ACLU and Police Complaint Center staff and volunteers will be monitoring law enforcement activity in selected counties using web-based technology to track police operations. Police, Sheriff, and Highway Patrol radio frequencies also will be monitored. Traffic stops by police and checkpoints in minority neighborhoods will be closely watched, documented and evaluated for any evidence of voter intimidation.

More than 50 ACLU volunteers will be serving as Election Protection poll monitors in counties throughout Florida, including Miami-Dade, Leon, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Orange. In addition, representatives from ACLU chapters will be monitoring the polls in areas that are not covered by Election Protection such as Volusia, Indian River and Martin counties. The ACLU also has trained more than two dozen volunteers to collect signatures outside the polls for the ballot initiative in support of a constitutional amendment to restore the voting rights of people with past felony convictions.

Some of the other activities the ACLU of Florida will monitor on Election Day, include:

  • Blocking voter access to provisional ballots.
  • Problems with voting machines, including human errors and technology-related problems.
  • Efforts to tamper with voting machines after the polls close.
  • Excessive presence of uniformed law enforcement officials at polling places.
  • Restricting free speech activities at polling places.

The ACLU has already challenged problematic election practices, including registration errors that prevent eligible voters from casting ballots, illegal policies that limit voters who requested absentee ballots from voting and Election Day set ups that could cause long delays at the polls.

The ACLU of Florida has distributed more than 20,000 voter empowerment cards in English and Spanish, which contain information for voters on their rights and ways to avoid problems when voting.

Voters with complaints are encouraged to call the organization’s toll-free voter hot line, 1-888-262-4854 from now until Wednesday, November 3rd. Voters who do not know where to cast a ballot on Election Day are encouraged to call the Election Protection Hot Line at: 1-866-OUR-VOTE for their correct precinct locations.

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