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RI ACLU Distributes Voting Right Card

Posted: October 15, 2008|Category: Voting Rights

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The Rhode Island ACLU is distributing throughout the state a voting rights card designed to inform people of their rights in next month’s Presidential election, in an effort to assist voters during what is supposed to be a record turn-out on November 4th. The ACLU is also staffing a voting rights hotline through Election Day to address voters’ questions or problems. (The card is available in Spanish as well.)

Every Election Day, the ACLU receives numerous queries and complaints about issues arising at polling locations, where sometimes contradictory information is provided by polling officials. In response, the palm-sized fold-out “voter empowerment card” sets out some of the important rights that voters have under Rhode Island law. Some examples are:

  • Only first-time voters who registered by mail or in a voter-registration drive and did not provide a verifiable RI driver’s license number, state ID number or last four digits of their social security number need to show identification at the polls.
  • Voters have the right to vote if they are in line when the polls close.
  • 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 in Providence and Central Falls have the right to voter assistance in Spanish from a designated poll worker.
  • Voters have the right to cast a “provisional ballot” even if a poll worker cannot find their name on the list and cannot verify their registration. However, voters should first make sure that they are in the right polling location to ensure that the votes will completely count.
  • Voters can receive a replacement ballot if the voting machine rejects their ballot, or if they catch a mistake they made before feeding the ballot into the machine.
  • If you moved to a new city or town within the state after October 5, you can still vote in your old city or town.

The cards also list useful phone numbers that people who have questions about their rights or who experience problems while voting can call. The numbers include a toll-free hotline to the ACLU Voting Rights Project, (877) 523-2792. Copies of the card -- for individuals or groups -- are available for free by calling the ACLU office at 831-7171.

RI ACLU executive director Steven Brown said: “On election days, our office often receives many inquiries from voters about their rights. We are hopeful that wide distribution of our voter empowerment cards will help reduce disputes at the polling places on November 4th, and lead to a more educated voting public.”

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