New Report Released: Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation--The Need for Voter Protection
Nearly 50 years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, the right to vote for underrepresented groups – including communities of color, people with disabilities, students, the elderly, and the poor – continues to be threatened. Deceptive election practices and voter intimidation remain a serious problem, and the tactics used to deceive and intimidate voters have become increasingly more nuanced, relying on new technologies and social media.
Common Cause and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law reviewed reports of deceptive election practices that targeted voters across the country and offers ways state and federal authorities can address these threats to our democracy. The results are detailed in the new report, “Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation: The Need for Voter Protection”, which highlights a variety of well-organized attempts to bully or misinform targeted groups of voters to keep them away from the polls. The 33-page report includes case studies of Election Day sabotage in nine states, including:
- More than 100,000 Election Day 2010 robocalls to predominately African-American precincts in Maryland advising supporters of incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley that O’Malley’s re-election was secure and they needn’t bother to vote. A top aide to Republican Bob Ehrlich was convicted of violating state election laws for his role in the case.
- Email messages on Election Day 2008 informing students at George Mason University in Virginia that voting had been postponed for 24 hours. Text messages sent to University of Florida students that day said Tuesday voting was for Republicans only, with Wednesday reserved for Democrats.
The report provides recommendations for solutions at the local, state, and federal levels, calling on Congress, state legislatures, and election officials to strengthen laws against political pillaging and better enforce those already on the books. Included in the report is a model of state legislation that can address this problem, including:
- Explicitly make it unlawful to intentionally communicate false information regarding elections, or voter eligibility with the intent to prevent a voter from exercising the right to vote when the perpetrator knows the information is false;
- Require the Attorney General of the state to investigate all claims of deceptive voter practices; provide correct election information to affected voters; and refer the matter to the appropriate federal, state, and local authorities for prosecution;
- Provide a private right of action for any person affected by these practices
If you encounter deceptive practices and voter intimidation, immediately call 1-886-OUR-VOTE (1-687-8683).