National and local voting rights activists, worried about threats to casting ballots nationwide, are setting up command centers, staffing hotlines and deploying thousands of monitors to polling sites across the country to ensure voters can get to the polls. “Folks are pretty much on high alert,’’ said Scott Simpson, director of media and campaigns for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of 200 groups. “There is no election like this in modern history and we are taking every precaution that we can, within our means, to prevent intimidation and to make sure that folks know that they will be able to cast their ballots free from intimidation.’’ With talk about “rigged’’ elections in the presidential campaign and the Supreme Court’s rejection of a key section of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, civil rights and voting rights activists say they’re concerned about possible shenanigans and roadblocks at the polls. Voting rights advocates are particularly worried about potential problems in states, mostly in the South, that used to be required to get approval or “pre-clearance” from the Justice Department before making any changes in election procedures because they had a history of discrimination at the polls. A 2013 Supreme Court decision — Shelby County v. Holder — threw out that provision. This will be the first presidential election since pre-clearance was eliminated in those states.
“We are keeping an eye out for voter purges, efforts to change polling sites at the 11th hour, barriers that people may face as they come up against registration deadlines,” said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Election Protection, a coalition of more than 100 civil rights and voting rights groups, has set up a national hotline (866-OURVOTE) where 4,500 legal volunteers will field calls. It is also plans to send monitors to 29 states and set up a national command center in Washington, D.C.
“We’re planning to be in more places than we were … in the 2012 presidential cycle just because of the number of barriers that we have seen states put in place since the Shelby County ruling,” said Clarke. “Based on the kind of complaints that we’ve heard from voters we see a real need to be in as many states as possible.”
Full Article: Voting rights group ramping up election protection efforts.