ACLU Seeks Materials on Voter ID Requirements at Polls

November 15, 2007

FOIA Request Follows Election Day Complaints That Some Registrars and Poll Workers Misled Voters

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: media@aclu.org

RICHMOND, VA - The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia today sent a Freedom of Information Act request to local voting officials across the state seeking copies of signs used at polling places on Election Day and training materials pertaining to voter identification requirements.

Based on complaints from voters from around the state, the ACLU believes that many voters were led to believe they could not vote without a driver’s license, voter registration card or some other form of identification. Virginia law allows voters who are not carrying an ID to sign an Affirmation of Identity form.  In at least one documented case, a registered voter was not allowed to vote because he was not carrying an ID. 

"Voting is a fundamental right and it is the essence of our participatory democracy," said ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis. "The fewer barriers there are to voting, the more democratic and fairer the process.

"Virginia law clearly states that you do not need to have an ID to vote, but in some places it appears that poll workers and registrars ignore it," added Willis. "This is our number one complaint on Election Day, but we won’t know the extent of the problem until we collect information from the registrars."

On Election Day, the ACLU complained to the Fredericksburg Registrar that a poster at a polling place implied that Virginia law requires an ID.  The Registrar removed the sign sometime around noon that day.

"Every year we receive complaints from individuals because of misleading signs or poll workers who told them they could not vote without an ID," said Willis. "The law is clear, but registrars and poll workers, at least in some places, resist it."

The ACLU of Virginia and the Virginia NAACP operate a hotline on Election Day in which they monitor problems at the polls and assist voters who have been illegally denied the right to vote.  Cases challenging stringent voter identification requirements in other states argue that such requirements have a disproportionate impact on racial minorities.

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