ACLU Launches New 'Voter Empowerment Cards'

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
October 4, 2004 12:00 am

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Pocket Cards Advise Voters of Basic Rights and Emergency Contacts on Election Day

ATLANTA–The Voting Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union announced today that it has produced voter empowerment cards for voters in eight states. The cards are designed to inform voters of their rights on Election Day to avoid problems when casting a ballot.

“Efforts by states to implement the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), which was passed in the wake of the controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election, are likely to create a great deal of confusion this November,” said Laughlin McDonald, director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project. “The ACLU is working hard to ensure that HAVA is implemented fairly, but unfortunately we find that minority voters are still disproportionately and negatively impacted by flaws in the voting system in many states. These cards will give voters the tools they need to stand up for their rights and ensure their ballots are fully counted on November 2.”

The pocket cards, which are being distributed by ACLU state affiliates and are available for download at, summarize the basic state and federal laws pertaining to every voter and list emergency contact numbers for voters to call if they encounter problems at the polls. The cards also provide answers to common questions such as: Where do I vote? Is identification required? How can I minimize potential problems?

To date, voter empowerment cards have been created for voters in Florida, Georgia, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. The ACLU said that additional state cards will be created throughout October in time for the election.

In addition to the voter empowerment cards, the ACLU web site features information about voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications, polling place locators and contact information for ACLU state affiliates and state election authorities.

The voter empowerment program is the latest development in the ACLU’s work to ensure that all eligible voters are allowed to cast their votes on Election Day. In recent months, the ACLU and several state affiliates have engaged in grassroots campaigns to restore voting rights to ex-felons, and the ACLU of Florida was instrumental in ending the state’s plan to use a “felon purge” list in the upcoming November election. In Ohio, the ACLU brought a federal lawsuit challenging the infamous “hanging chad” punch card machines and other inadequate voting technologies in the upcoming election.

The Atlanta-based Voting Rights Project also monitors state attempts to use redistricting schemes to dilute the influence of minority voters. In South Dakota alone, the Project filed six federal lawsuits on behalf of the state’s Native American voters since 1999. To date, five of these cases have been resolved in favor of the ACLU and its Native American plaintiffs and one remains pending. That suit challenges a redistricting plan, which the ACLU argues dilutes Native American voting strength in the city of Martin, South Dakota (Cottier v. City of Martin, SD).

To download the voter empowerment cards, go to /vote.

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