I have been doing voter protection work for over 30 years. At one time or another I have seen every one of these commonly used voter suppression tactics in states across the country. 5 Voting Suppression Tactics Used Before Elections:
ELECTION DATE CHANGE
Emails, robocalls or paper flyers placed in mailboxes or on car windshields telling voters that one political party votes on one day, and everyone else on another, are simply not true. After early voting and absentee voting periods close, the only day to vote is Election Day, which falls this year on Nov. 4.
In the past, billboards with ominous messages have appeared in neighborhoods, “observers” have threatened to challenge the eligibility of certain voters or employers have told workers that voting a certain way could cost them their jobs. All are scare tactics.
Polling places do not have access to voters’ criminal records. Anything that says you can be arrested for showing up to vote if you have unpaid parking tickets, outstanding arrest warrants or a criminal record is untrue, activists say.
There are only three states where felony convictions can lead to a permanent loss of voting rights: Kentucky, Florida and Iowa, according to Project Vote. Everywhere else, former criminals can eventually get their voting rights restored, so check your state’s laws. And all states require conviction, so ongoing cases have no effect on the right to cast a ballot.
CHANGE OF POLLING LOCATION, HOURS
Polling places are assigned at the time of voter registration, and those locations are the only places voters can cast an in-person ballot on Election Day. Last-minute telephone calls, emails or paper flyers that purport to tell voters of a change in polling places and voting times are more likely an attempt to frustrate voters into going home without voting.
“DO NOT VOTE” MESSAGES
Some sides try to depress voting by telling the electorate that polls show a certain race is already over, or that one candidate or the other is so far ahead that one more vote won’t matter. The truth is, every vote counts — as shown by many close elections in the past.
If you encounter any of these tactics, contact the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law: Call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (1-866-687-8683)