New ban on political apparel, other common problems expected to cause confusion

RICHMOND, VA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia will answer questions from voters who encounter problems at the polls on Election Day, and is prepared to advocate on behalf of those whose rights have been denied. The hotline number is 804/644-8080. The ACLU of Virginia has operated an Election Day hotline for the last dozen years.
Advice the ACLU will be giving to voters is likely to include what to do if:
-- they are told they are not on the registration rolls after arriving at the polls
-- they have lost or do not have identification with them
-- they make a mistake while completing their ballot
-- their vote is challenged by someone else
-- they cannot physically access the polling place
-- they are told to remove or cover a political message on a t-shirt or button
Special note on political apparel at polling places
The ACLU of Virginia plans to file a lawsuit challenging a new State Board of Elections’ policy prohibiting voters from wearing buttons, t-shirts or stickers with political messages while in the polling place. The ACLU is advising voters to remove or cover such items if asked by an election official, but to immediately contact the hotline to report the incident.
According to the State Board of Elections, voters will be asked to cover or remove political messages, but those who refuse will still be allowed to vote. However, election officials are being instructed to report such individuals to the local Commonwealth’s Attorney, who has the authority to prosecute anyone in violation of the law.
Voter Empowerment Cards
The ACLU of Virginia has distributed more than 50,000 cards describing voters’ rights. Although Voter Empowerment Cards are no longer available for distribution, they may be viewed or downloaded at www.acluva.org/pages/2008elections.html.
Media Interviews on Voters’ Rights
Representatives of the ACLU are available for media interviews before and on Election Day to discuss voters’ rights.

Contact: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804/644-8022