The nation’s most ambitious nonpartisan program for preventing Election Day disenfranchisement is helping voters in 20 states to know, exercise, and defend their right to vote
As news stories focus on the likelihood that a range of voting problems will prevent some voters from casting a vote or having it counted on Election Day, nonpartisan Election Protection efforts are moving into full swing across the country. Election Protection / Know Your Rights efforts are being carried out by an extraordinarily broad coalition (see list below) of organizations working to educate voters about their rights, encourage them to vote, and provide a toll-free hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) with access to free same-day legal assistance for voters who run into problems.
A few highlights of Election Protection efforts as we approach Election Day:
People For the American Way Foundation and Artists for a New South Africa have collaborated to produce radio spots encouraging people to vote and providing the toll-free Election Protection hotline number for voters who need assistance on Election Day. ANSA founders and supporters Blair Underwood, Charles S. Dutton, Angela Bassett, Alfre Woodard, Robert Guillaume, and Sinbad recorded radio ads that will run as paid spots and public service announcements on African American-oriented radio stations in a number of states. PFAWF is spending upwards of $500,000 to support the radio campaign. “It is frightening that it is now easier for a black person to vote in Johannesburg, South Africa than in Jacksonville, Florida,” says a letter signed by more than a dozen prominent artists.
Ambitious Reach and a Major Commitment
Election Protection will reach millions of voters between now and Election Day.
More than 2.3 million copies of Voters’ Bill of Rights materials are being distributed through community organizations and by Election Protection volunteers. Materials are in English, Spanish, and Creole. State-specific Voters’ Bill of Rights materials for 20 states are available on our website for groups to download and distribute themselves. All contain the toll-free number to reach coalition and volunteer lawyers.
Thousands of volunteers will canvass neighborhoods in hundreds of precincts between now and Election Day – 1,000 volunteers in Florida alone. Election Protection and the Arrive with Five program has been active for months across the state, reaching out to thousands of voters. A late summer bus tour hit two dozen cities, the Hispanic community threw voting festivals in Orlando, and marchers took to the streets in Miami and Palm Beach to support early voting.
Hundreds of young people are volunteering – more than 50 students from Howard University will be taking a long bus ride to Jacksonville, Florida to work as poll monitors. Students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities are being joined by young people recruited through Black Youth Vote and some of our Latino partner organizations.
Hundreds of volunteer lawyers will be on the ground at Election Protection sites, working the hotline, or standing by on call to deal with problems when they arrive.
Print ads, both paid and donated, will reach millions of voters through papers affiliated with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (ads reaching at least 2 million readers, including more than 900,000 in Florida) and the National Hispanic Press Foundation (ads reaching more than 300,000 readers).
In this election cycle, People For the American Way Foundation itself has committed $2.8 million for Election Protection efforts. 70 PFAWF staff will join coalition staff members on the ground and at the lawyers’ hotline. More than 30 PFAWF staff will be on the ground in Florida.
Election Protection’s success rests on its ability to excite and mobilize volunteers by drawing on the expertise, networks, and resources of a broad range of organizations. PFAWF’s national partners include the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, NAACP, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, A. Philip Randolph Institute, National Newspaper Publishers Association, Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, African American Ministers Leadership Council, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, National Council of La Raza, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, United States Hispanic Leadership Institute, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, League of United Latin American Citizens, the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration and National Hispanic Press Foundation. State-level coalitions include a wide array of civic, legal, religious, and labor organizations.
In addition to distributing Voters’ Bill of Rights materials in 20 states, PFAWF staff will spearhead Election Protection ground efforts in Florida, Missouri, Texas, Nevada, Wisconsin, and Georgia.
Mary Jean Collins, National Field Director
cell phone 202-531-4347
Delisa Saunders, Sr. Deputy Field Director
cell phone 202-256-1312
Sharon Lettman-Pacheco, Deputy Field Director
cell phone 850-980-3340
Janice Lucas, Election Protection Director
cell phone 850-527-7760
Guillermo Nicacio, Latino/Hispanic Outreach
cell phone 202-276-0057
Ralph G. Neas, President
Elliot Mincberg, Vice President and General Counsel
Peter Montgomery, Communications Director
office 202-467-2388/cell 202-425-0626