WASHINGTON, D.C. – Amid threats of Election Day intimidation, the ACLU of Virginia has joined 18 other Virginia organizations and 87 national civil rights and voting rights groups to urge Commissioner of Elections Edgardo Cortes to “continue your efforts to be especially vigilant in identifying and guarding against any actions before or on election day that interfere with Virginians’ right to cast their ballots.”
In a letter sent to Commissioner Cortes, the ACLU-VA and other groups cite their concern with the loss of Section 5 of the VRA, emphasizing that Congress’ failure to pass legislation restoring the VRA means that there is less federal oversight of elections and no pre-clearance of discriminatory legislation like the unnecessary voter ID law passed in Virginia and the recent changes in the state law governing voter registration by civic organizations.
The letter said that while the signatory organizations “appreciate the work the Governor of Virginia and the Department of Elections are doing to overcome these restrictions and expand access to the ballot,” they remain persuaded that  “we need more action to protect the right to vote in Virginia and other states previously covered by the Voting Rights Act.” The letter concluded by exhorting the Commissioner to remain vigilant on November 8th, “[g]iven the many recent examples of post-Shelby voting discrimination.”
“Despite the effort by those harping on unsupported claims of voter fraud to divert attention from actions and policies that seek to curtail rather than expand access to the voting booth, the real concern on November 8th should be threatened actions to suppress the vote and intimidate Virginia voters at the polls, particularly people of color,” said Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, Executive Director of the ACLU of Virginia. “We hope that the Commissioner and the general registrars are ready to identify, intervene in and prosecute any cases of voter intimidation on election day, and have a clearly defined plan to do so. We encourage anyone who experiences or observes intimidation at the polls on election day to use our Mobile Justice app to video the conduct and to call our hotline at 804-644-8080,” Gastanaga added.