TODAY: NYCLU to Run Voter Hotline, Monitor Polls in Close Counties, Provide Statewide Resources

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
November 8, 2016 9:30 am

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The New York Civil Liberties Union’s election protection initiative today will include running an Election Day hotline in highly contested counties in Western New York that voters can call if they encounter intimidation and other problems at the polls. The NYCLU also partnered with Common Cause New York to conduct poll monitor trainings across the state, and recruited volunteers and members to monitor polls in Monroe, Nassau and Suffolk. The NYCLU’s main office will also be taking calls from voters statewide who encounter barriers at the polls.

“Who you vote for is your business; that you’re allowed to vote if you’re eligible is ours,” said NYCLU Western Regional Chapter Director John A. Curr III. “There’s been a lot of talk about voter intimidation, but we are committed to making sure New Yorkers are able to exercise their constitutional rights on Election Day.”

Protection the right to vote has become increasingly critical in the lead-up to the highly contentious 2016 election, with accusations of voter intimidation ?C under the pretense of preventing voter fraud — coming before federal judges in several states. In Ohio, for example, there is an ongoing legal battle about whether or not a group called Stop the Steal is seeking to engage in illegal intimidation of voters of color after comments by Republican candidate Donald J. Trump. Voter intimidation can include aggressive questions about citizenship, spreading false information or posing as an elections official.

Western New York is perceived to be among the most highly contested races in New York State. Long a Democratic stronghold surrounded by red counties, Erie County forecasts a strong turnout for both Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton tomorrow. One of the most hotly anticipated senate races tomorrow is also over the 60th district seat, between Democrat Amber Small and Republican Chris Jacobs. As part of the Western Regional Chapter’s hotline, staff and attorneys will be available from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. to take questions and field complaints on a number of issues including voter intimidation, unconstitutional voter ID requirements, errors on the voter registry or lack of accommodations for people with disabilities. The hotline can be reached at 716.332.4658.

The NYCLU’s Suffolk County, Nassau County and Genesee Valley chapters will also be engaged in on-the-ground election protection work, including assisting voters with finding polling places, helping those whose names do not show up on the registry with affidavit ballots and serving as a buffer against voter intimidation. The NYCLU partnered with Common Cause NY in the lead-up to the election to recruit and train poll monitors in Manhattan, Kingston in Ulster County, Rochester in Monroe County, Central Islip in Suffolk County and Hempstead in Nassau County.

The NYCLU will also be taking calls from voters across the state at its main office at 212.607.3300 and sharing significant reports of voting barriers it receives throughout the day on social media at @nyclu.

“New Yorkers of color, the elderly and people with disabilities have historically faced barriers to the vote,” said Erika Lorshbough, legislative counsel at the NYCLU. “Casting a ballot is a constitutional right that no one should be blocked or intimidated from exercising.”

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