“Give me a provisional ballot with a receipt as required by law.”
The words above may make the difference between your voters having their voices heard, or being kept from the ballot box.
With record voter registration numbers and Americans fired up to elect Democrats this November, Republicans have turned to an old tactic of disenfranchisement in a desperate and sometimes illegal effort to retain their hold on the government.
By casting a provisional ballot, your constituents will be able to vote when a poll worker questions or denies their eligibility.
Although states vary in how they handle them, federal law requires election officials to provide voters who do not appear on registries or whose eligibility has been challenged by election officials at the polls to be given provisional ballots.
Rules vary for provisional ballots state by state, but in most cases a provisional ballot will turn into a full, legal ballot when a voter comes back to the designated municipal office by a set deadline and shows proper identification. It is critical that voters know where and when they must return to have their vote counted.
Here are just a few of the states where Republicans are attacking voting rights.
In Georgia, nearly 53,000 voters--80 percent of whom are African American, Asian American, and Latino-- have not been added to the state's list of active voters due to Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s enforcement of an “exact match” law. The law, passed last year, requires that voter registrations exactly match government records. Something as small as a missing hyphen can make the difference in whether an otherwise registered voter will be able to cast their ballot. Kemp has purged more than 1.4 million voters from the state’s registration rolls during his tenure.
Brian Kemp is also the Republican candidate for governor, having refused to step down from his position of power over voters after winning the primary.
Indiana has purged 27,000 voters based on a controversial and legally dubious interstate crosscheck list. Such lists have been judged as faulty in the past, as they lead to the removal of registered individuals with common names that may show up in another state. This June a federal judge issued an injunction against Indiana removing these voters, but it appears the state proceeded with the purge regardless. Half a million Hoosiers have been removed from the voter rolls in the past two years, roughly ten percent of Indiana's total registered voters.
Nevada used a postcard removal method to take 90,000 voters off the rolls between 2016 and 2017. Anyone, including otherwise legally registered voters who failed to mail in a postcard confirming their address were subsequently unregistered. While postcard removal schemes ostensibly target households where voters have moved, many of the 90,000 remained at their current address and had simply failed to return the postcards.
In North Dakota, Native American voters are being denied their voting rights due to an election law recently upheld by the Supreme Court requiring all residents to show ID with a current street address. Many reservation systems, however, do not use physical street addresses, instead receiving mail at PO Boxes and using tribal IDs which don't list a residential address. The law does allow voters to provide alternative proof such as utility bills with a street address, but many Native Americans also lack these forms of documentation. The new law has disenfranchised tens of thousands of North Dakotans who do not live on state recognized streets.
Make sure your constituents keep their right to vote. Tell them to say “Give me a provisional ballot with a receipt as required by law.”