Advocates say voters around the country -- particularly Black, Latinx, the elderly and impoverished -- encountered numerous hurdles while voting in-person on Election Day this year. From long lines to ballot drop boxes that weren’t secure to clear signs of voter intimidation, efforts to disenfranchise voters were a consistent challenge.
Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, provided real-time updates on Tuesday, Nov. 3 of some of the specific problems voters faced at the polls. They ranged from machines not being properly calibrated in some Georgia counties to polling sites in Philadelphia that opened several hours late. There were also sporadic complaints of intimidation in Florida and sites in Ohio that ran out of ballots.
“We are exploring potential litigation,” said Clarke who noted that 43,000 legal volunteers at call centers nationwide were assisting with a national Election Protection Hotline used by voters in all 50 states. This election season, the national Lawyers’ Committee has already filed nearly 30 lawsuits to expand access to voting and has been on the frontlines of encouraging voter education and turnout.
Leaders at the Advancement Project’s National Office, a national racial justice organization, said despite a global health pandemic, last minute poll closures and efforts to slow down the delivery of vote-by-mail ballots via the United States Postal Service, voters managed to cast their ballots in significant numbers.
"There were intentional efforts to erect barriers at every turn,” said Judith Browne Dianis, Executive Director of Advancement Project National Office. “We saw people standing in line for up to 11 hours, the challenge of voter registration rules, the removal of polling sites and lack of drop boxes in Black and Brown communities.”
“Our lawyers were on standby around the country, supporting election protection efforts and addressing issues as they came up,” she added. "We must continue to galvanize and fight for free, fair and safe elections. We must move forward with the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Act of 2020. When we make it easier and open up access, people will vote.”