Empowerment cards available in English and SpanishRICHMOND , VA. The Virginia State Conference of the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia are distributing informational cards to Virginia voters and have established hotlines for voters who run into problems on election day.
The double-sided palm-sized "voter empowerment" cards describe the rights of voters under Virginia law once they reach the polls. The hotline will enable voters to contact someone at the NAACP or the ACLU on Election Day if they feel they have been illegally denied the right to vote. The NAACP hotline number is 804/321-5678. The ACLU number is 804/644-8080.
The decision to inform voters of their rights and to provide assistance on Election Day stems from the experiences of the NAACP and the ACLU during elections. "We are concerned that some voters are turned away from the polls because they are not fully aware of their rights under Virginia law," King Salim Khalfani, executive director of the NAACP in Virginia. "Voters with the empowerment card in their hands will know their rights and be able to assert them on Election Day."
"If the cards don’t provide the answer to their questions,” added ACLU of Virginia executive director Kent Willis, “we’ll have experts standing by our telephones to assist them. We are even prepared to go to court when it’s feasible.”
The empowerment card lists important rights that voters have under Virginia law, many of which are not widely know. Some examples are:
- Voters will be asked to produce some form of identification at the polls, but they have a right to vote even if they do not have an ID with them. They simply need to ask for an “Affirmation of Identity” form.
- Voters have a right to cast a “Conditional Ballot” even when their names do not show up on the registration rolls. It will be determined later if the voter was properly registered and vote is to be counted.
- Voters who are listed on registration rolls but who are told they are ineligible by a poll worker need only ask for an “Affirmation of Eligibility” form.
- Voters with a disability or who have trouble reading or writing are entitled to help inside the voting booth from a friend, relative or poll worker.
- Voters who moved after last year’s election but failed to register in their new precincts, have the right to return their old precincts to vote.
- Voters need not feel hurried in the voting booth. There is no limit on the time they can spend there.
Contacts: Kent Willis, Executive Director, ACLU of Virginia, 804-644-8022 King Salim Khalfani, Executive Director, Virginia State Conference NAACP, 804- 321-5678