Civil rights lawyers monitoring polls across the country on Tuesday reported some confusion in states where contested voter identification laws were in effect. In Texas, where the state’s voter ID law faces a court challenge, voters reported receiving contradictory information about what types of identification they could show at the polls, according to Nicole Austin-Hillery of the Brennan Center for Justice. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that Texas officials could enforce the law while a court challenge was pending. In Virginia, there were inconsistencies in how poll workers implemented the state’s voter ID law, according to Hope Amezquita of the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia; this was the first statewide election with the law in effect. Amezquita said her team fielded reports from two counties about voters showing up without identification who weren’t provided with provisional ballots, which should have happened. “There are people out there who did not vote and should have been offered the opportunity,” Amezquita said. “If it’s happening and we’re hearing about it, it’s probably happening elsewhere and we’re not hearing about it.” Vicky McPherson, a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig who was coordinating lawyers monitoring polls through the National Bar Association, reported situations in which Virginia voters were asked to provide supplemental identification when they weren’t legally required to do so. She said her team was in touch with state officials to make sure they were giving poll workers proper instructions.
In Wisconsin, where the Supreme Court blocked the state from enforcing a voter identification law pending a court challenge, several lawyers monitoring the polls said they received no reports of poll workers defying the high court’s order and asking voters for an ID.
Ann Jacobs of Jacobs Injury Law in Milwaukee said poll monitors were coordinating with election officials to make sure voters didn’t take out their IDs while waiting in line, for fear of scaring away potential voters who lacked one. Jacobs was helping to coordinate poll monitoring in the state through Election Protection, a national coalition of civil rights groups and legal organizations.
Lawyers watching the polls reported other problems. In Missouri, which was rocked earlier this year by protests after the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer, Denise Lieberman, a senior attorney with Advancement Project, said her group received reports of police presence around voting precincts.