Voter suppression has begun. In North Carolina, a 100-year-old black woman’s voter status was challenged by a Republican in her hometown. Grace Bell Hardison was told, as reported by The Nation, that if she didn’t appear in front of her county’s Board of Elections, or submit a notarized form, she would be denied her right to vote. Hardison was among a list of 138 North Carolinian voters who were challenged; the list, compiled by Republicans, included 92 people who were both African-American and registered Democrats.
In Indiana, reports the Huffington Post, a voter registration organization intent on registering African-Americans to vote was raided by the state police. In Wisconsin a DMV didn’t give Zach Moore, an African-American male, a credential they were lawfully supposed to give him so he could vote.
Election Day isn’t until Nov. 8, but voter suppression is in full swing.
Here's what you can do:
1. Show up and be prepared to witness the vote.
Check out the #WitnesstheVote webinar and toolkit, which will provide the training you need to ensure everyone is treated fairly on Nov. 8. Tweet out #witnessthevote with any images or details of voter suppression efforts to alert others to questionable behavior.
2. Report it when you see it.
You should call the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's hotline 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) if you, or someone you know, are notified that you can’t vote, or can vote only under certain circumstances, and you suspect that unlawful practices are to blame for the difficulty.
Likewise, you should call the hotline if you notice at the poll any of the following eight possible signs of voter suppression, or if you notice blatant voter intimidation.
- If machines are broken
- If poll workers give information you suspect is wrong
- If you see intimidating flyers or police presence
- If multiple voters say they’re not on the rolls
- If you notice a lot of provisional ballots being used
- If the polling place opens late or closes early
- If voters who don’t speak English are having issues
- If the polling place isn’t accessible to the physically disabled (e.g. a step without a ramp)
Other hotlines that may be used are the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ bilingual (Spanish / English) hotline 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682). The organization Asian Americans Advancing Justice also has a hotline for Asian languages: 888-API-VOTE (888-274-8683).
This is an important election. With our combined vigilance for one another, we can ensure that we retain the ability to exercise our right to vote and, in doing so, choose the path we want for our nation.