Toll-free hotlines, field monitors, and more available to assist voters
Washington, D.C. – With the 2020 primary season in full swing and the general election just months away, Election Protection, the nation’s largest nonpartisan voter protection coalition, is ramping up its efforts to safeguard voting rights across the country. Voters need to be able to access the polls and be confident that the ballots they cast will be counted. Multiple states have attempted to impose severe restrictions on the right to vote. While courts have batted down many of these efforts to limit the franchise, the confusion surrounding recent rulings and the lack of accurate information could disrupt voting this election cycle.
As it has for the past 19 years, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is convening the more than 200 organizations that make up the Election Protection coalition. This election cycle, as always, Election Protection will assist voters using hotlines, field monitors, voter education, as well as litigation when necessary, to protect the vote.
“This election season makes clear that voter suppression is alive and well,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The evidence makes clear that jurisdictions are resorting to purge programs, registration barriers, polling place closures, ballot disqualification schemes and other discriminatory schemes to discourage voter participation among our nation’s most vulnerable communities. The Election Protection program is the nation’s largest and longest running non-partisan voter protection effort. Through the 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) hotline, our network of thousands of legal volunteers and with over 200 partner organizations, we are bringing an army of resources to beat back the barriers that voters face. Election Protection stands ready to use litigation, advocacy and reform to help ensure that every eligible American has the opportunity to exercise the fundamental right to vote in the 2020 election cycle.”
The 866-OUR-VOTE is part of a suite of hotlines that includes the bilingual hotlines administered by the NALEO Educational Fund in Spanish and English (888-VE-Y-VOTA/888-839-8682), by the Arab American Institute in Arabic and English (844-YALLA-US/844-925-5287) and by Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC and APIAVote in Bengali/Bangla, Cantonese, Hindi, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, Urdu and Vietnamese (888-API-VOTE/888-274-8683) will be available for all hours the polls are open on primary days and during regular business hours on non-primary days.
“In states across the country, there have been bold voter suppression tactics aimed at reducing the electoral influence of Latino voters and others that we must stop,” said Arturo Vargas, Chief Executive Officer at NALEO Educational Fund. “Our ¡Ve y Vota! hotline serves as a trusted resource to report efforts to violate the voting rights of Latinos, as well as to obtain voting and election information to ensure a knowledgeable and well-prepared Latino electorate.”
“We have a responsibility to make sure that every Asian American who is eligible and engaged has the information they need to cast their vote,” said John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC. “We are determined to help remove existing barriers to ensure our community has full access to the ballot box because voting is not a privilege reserved only for English speaking voters.”
“Our work with the Election Protection Committee is critical to making sure Asian Americans are given support when heading to the polls,” said Christine Chen, Executive Director of APIAVote, “We’ve seen an increase in participation from the AAPI community in the 2018 midterms and the 2019 local elections and we anticipate a large turnout in 2020. In order to provide additional support to those that are limited English proficient or are just new to their local voting systems,” she added, “APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice are offering bilingual support in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Urdu, Hindi, and Bengali in order to further our goal of equal access at the polls.” Chen also noted that “We also aim to provide election protection when AAPIs are faced with discrimination, intimidation tactics, or (for new immigrant voters) unexpected barriers.”
The Arab American Institute (AAI) launched the bilingual Arabic/English #YallaVote Voter Protection Hotline in 2016 in preparation for the first election in decades without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. “In an era of rampant voter suppression, the #YallaVote Hotline has proven vital for voters across the country who call to confirm their voter registration status, to report cases of voter intimidation, to seek language support at their polling location, and more,” said Executive Director Maya Berry. “Arabic is one of the fastest growing languages in the country and we will be ready to assist all voters. Under the leadership of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, we will again defend the sacred right to vote and join other partners at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) and Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIA Vote) to offer national voter protection hotlines to protect access to democracy for all.”
In 2018, Election Protection supported the four hotlines with field programs in 30 target states, working nationwide to mobilize 6,000 grassroots volunteers and 4,000 legal volunteers primarily on Election Day. Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-Director of Voting Rights for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Voting Rights Project describes Election Protection2020’s expanded strategy, “For the 2020 election, we are supporting coalition efforts to expand field programs beyond the general election with a combination of call centers, poll monitor programs and rapid response efforts in a number of the remaining primary states including: the South Carolina presidential primary on Saturday, February 29; Super Tuesday primaries in California, Texas and North Carolina; and later primaries such as Georgia, Ohio and Illinois.”
Melanie Campbell, the president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation stated, “At no time in our history has the need for Black participation in voting as well as being counted in the census been more critical. We are keenly aware of the importance of voters having trusted sources, which is what the Election Protection coalition provides. For this reason, we launched our Unity 2020 Campaign to ensure our communities participate and maximize our power in 2020. Further, The Black Women’s Roundtable Voter Guide was created to provide information on who respects the Black vote and who does not. Black leaders and our allies are coming together in 2020 to maximize our resources in saving our democracy from peril.”
“As a nonpartisan organization that has been advocating for government accountability and representing the people’s voice for 50 years, Common Cause believes that every eligible voter, whether they are a Republican, a Democrat, or Independent, has the right to have their voice heard and vote counted,” Karen Hobert Flynn said. “We know the integrity of our elections is under constant threat from new unsecure voting technologies, foreign governments seeking to influence our elections, and wealthy special interests that are erecting new barriers to voting. This is why the Election Protection coalition is so important to help ensure free, fair, and accessible elections and provide help to anyone who has questions about or is having trouble voting.”
For more information on these hotlines and on the field organizations, please contact the following:
- Arab American Institute: Edy Semaan, [email protected], 202-429-9210.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC: Michelle Boykins, 202-296-2300 x 0144, [email protected]
- APIAVote/ Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote: Jennifer Baik,202-223-4180, [email protected]
- Common Cause: Jay Riestenberg, 202-736-5741, [email protected]
- Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: [email protected]
- NALEO Educational Fund: Kevin Peréz-Allen, 202-360-4186, [email protected]
- National Coalition on Black Civic Participation: [email protected]
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. Now in its 56th year, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is continuing its quest to “Move America Toward Justice.” The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice for all, particularly in the areas of criminal justice, fair housing and community development, economic justice, educational opportunities, and voting rights.
The Arab American Institute (AAI) is a non-profit, nonpartisan, national civil rights organization founded in 1985 to nurture and encourage direct participation in our political and civic life, and to mobilize a strong, educated, and empowered Arab American community. As the only national organization that promotes Arab American participation in the U.S. electoral system, AAI has developed a host of services, from voter education and protection resources to facilitation of engagement with the national parties, to support the community’s activities.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC is an affiliation of organizations that provide programs and services to the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community nationwide. AAJC was created in 1991 to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all.
APIAVote is a national nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that encourages and promotes civic participation of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the electoral and public policy processes at the national, state and local levels. Founded in 2007, APIAVote now works with partners in 28 states to ensure Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders participate in our American democracy and have fair and equal access to the democratic process.
Common Cause is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.
NALEO Educational Fund is the nation’s leading non-partisan, non-profit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service.
The National Coalition on Black Civic Participation is a non-partisan civic engagement organization that strives to cultivate institutional base-building capacity and intergenerational leadership models at the local, state and national levels. NCBCP is committed to nurturing a climate where new thinking, innovative and traditional strategies of empowerment are respected and freely expressed; and strategic partnerships and alliances are welcomed. By educating, motivating, organizing and mobilizing our communities, the NCBCP seeks to encourage full participation in a barrier-free democratic process.