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Election Protection: What it is, why it’s needed, and what you can do to protect yourself and others from voter intimidation.



What is Election Protection?


The national, nonpartisan Election Protection (EP) coalition works year-round to ensure that all voters have an equal opportunity to vote and have that vote count. Made up of more than 300 local, state and national partners, the EP coalition uses a wide range of tools and activities to protect, advance and defend the right to vote. They provide Americans from coast to coast with comprehensive information and assistance at all stages of voting, from registration, to absentee + early voting, to casting a vote at the polls, to overcoming obstacles to their participation.


One of EP's most popular resources is their free Election Protection Hotline. Throughout the election cycle, hotline volunteers provide voters with information, help voters document problems they encounter when voting, and work with partners and volunteers on the ground to identify and remove barriers to voting.

Why Election Protection is necessary.


Federal law currently prohibits voter intimidation, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still happen. America has a long history of voter intimidation, particularly against people of color. And voter intimidation is not limited by geography or political party, either. As a People For the American Way-NAACP report states, “[voter intimidation] takes place from California to New York, Texas to Illinois. It is not the province of a single political party.” 


Unfortunately instances of voter intimidation have been on the rise since the 2016 Presidential Election. Here are some of the forms voter intimidation can take:


  • Aggressively questioning voters about their citizenship, criminal record, or other qualifications to vote, in a manner intended to interfere with the voters’ rights 

  • Falsely presenting oneself as an elections official 

  • Spreading false information about voter requirements, such as an ability to speak English

  • Displaying false or misleading signs about voter fraud

  • Physically blocking polling places

  • Using threatening language in or near a polling place

[Sources: ACLU + Campaign Legal Center]


Because voter intimidation persists and is getting worse, voter advocacy services like the Election Protection Hotline are critical. Voting is a right, and no one should be scared to cast their ballot.



How to get in contact with an Election Protection volunteer if you experience voter intimidation.


Election Protection has a suite of voter helplines administered by coalition members. Here are the hotlines that are currently available:



EP also has multiple digital outreach tools, including 866ourvote.org, @866ourVote, and facebook.com/866OurVote.



How you can help protect our elections. 


The easiest way for anyone to help us maintain fair elections is by sharing Election Protection information with family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Before election day, promote the voter hotline and share important voting information like registration deadlines and ID requirements. Please note that each state has different rules on election day, so please visit www.866ourvote.org/state and click on your state so you are properly informed before you talk to other community members. 


On election day, be sure to report any problems at the polls that you see to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline (or you can text 866-687-8683). The hotline provides one-on-one assistance to voters with questions or problems that may arise. The hotline also identifies the most common issues voters encounter (from language assistance to a misunderstanding of the rules by volunteer poll workers) and gives counties and the state a chance to come up with solutions.


If you feel really strongly about safe elections, you can also apply to become an Election Protection volunteer. There’s a role for all types of democracy protectors, whether it’s helping voters from home, assisting voters safely in person, or tracking online disinformation.



 

Additional Resources:


Diaz, Jonathan. "Is Voter Intimidation Illegal? What Should I Do If I Experience It?" Campaign Legal Center, 11 Mar. 2024.


Friel, Katie + Jasleen Singh. "Voter Intimidation and Election Worker Intimidation Resource Guide." Brennan Center for Justice, 28 Oct. 2022.


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