Voter Action Press Release
Civic Groups File Legal Complaint For Extended Poll Hours and Emergency Paper BallotsApr 22 2008 | in Philadelphia Citing Multiple Polls with Voting Machine Malfunctions
For Immediate Release:
Watch The Vote 2008 Consortium Contacts:
Susan Greenhalgh: Voter Action 917.796.8782
Greg Moore: NAACP-NVF 202.487.6787
Harry Cook: InfoVoter Technologies 267.242.5628
Neil Foote: The Tom Joyner Morning Show 214.448.3765
Chris Dreibelbis: Reform Institute 703.535.6897 ext. 12
Kathryn Bookvar: Advancement Project 610.804.2913
Aaron Couch: VoterStory 2008 215.825.4007
Philadelphia, PA, April 22, 2008 - Attorneys from the 866 MY VOTE 1/Watch the Vote consortium filed a motion this afternoon seeking relief for Philadelphia voters who may face broken or malfunctioning voting machines this evening. The complaint, filed in Philadelphia Election Court on behalf of Philadelphia residents calls for an injunction to require that the Board of Elections provide voters with emergency paper ballots and extend poll hours in the event of voting machine malfunctions this evening. Citing calls from distressed voters to the 1 866 MYVOTE1 hotline and affidavits from the plaintiffs, the complaint claims that at least five polling locations in Philadelphia County experienced extended voting machine malfunctions that resulted in long lines and voters leaving the polls without casting a ballot. None of the polling locations offered voters emergency paper ballots according to voter complaints.
"The 866 MY VOTE 1 hotline and database has proven invaluable as an aid to improve the election process," said Harry Cook vice-president of InfoVoter Technology. "It enables us to process data in real time, discover trends, identify isolated and jurisdiction wide problem and empower our voter advocacy partners to act on behalf of voters on election day."
The hotly contested primary has led to unusually high primary voter turnout exacerbating polling place problems reported to the hotline. "The circumstances of today's election have confirmed Advancement Project's fears: election officials, by and large, have been completely unprepared today to issue and process emergency ballots, and hundreds of voters have been deprived of the right to vote as a result,"said Kathryn Boockvar, senior attorney for Advancement Project. "This litigation asks the court to remedy this injustice."
Gregory T. Moore, executive director, The NAACP-National Voter Fund agreed saying, "it is important to take this action to ensure that voters are not discouraged by long lines that are known to disenfranchise voters, particularly minority and low income voters."
"The right to vote is paramount and needs to be protected. When a voter cannot access the ballot because voting machines break down and long lines ensue, then voters must be guaranteed an emergency paper ballot and polls must be kept open," said John Bonifaz, legal director for VoterAction.org.