The ACLU was able to help resolve the 120 election-day calls received on their hotline during the Kansas primary,

One caller to the Election Protection hotline during Tuesday’s primary election said he was a registered voter, had produced a valid license, but refused to have it scanned in one of the new voting machines. He wanted to know if he had to submit to the scan in order to vote.

Another caller, a retired corrections employee wanted to use an identification card issued years ago by the penal institution as his ID card. Yet another caller chaffed at being asked to put away a brochure she was using to make her voting selections.

Despite legally nuanced and interpretive calls such as these, the Election Protection hotline, a state-wide, rapid response program established to safeguard the voting process, did just that, resolving virtually all of the issues phoned in from anxious voters.

“It went pretty well,” said Lauren Bonds, legal director for the ACLU of Kansas, who with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and the Stinson Leonard Street law firm in Kansas City, staffed the line. “We helped voters, poll workers and elections officials.”

Hotline lawyers took 120 calls during the more than 12 hours in which voters phoned with real-time concerns and conflicts on topics ranging from whether citizens could vote using an expired identification card, to locked doors at polling places to questions about whether unaffiliated people could vote.

The hotline, a nonpartisan, public service effort to ensure citizens can exercise their right to vote, fielded 50 calls during 2016’s general election. General elections typically draw stronger turnout. Call volume was up considerably Tuesday.

“It is rewarding to be a part of this nonpartisan effort to assist all those who need it in exercising their right to vote,” said Vicki Smith, a partner at Stinson. “Stinson Leonard Street LLP is proud to have been involved in this effort.”

It was a busy hotline day outside of Kansas as well.

“On August 7th, Election Protection received hundreds of calls to our 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from voters in Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington, who encountered problems in voting” said Laura Grace, Election Protection Manager. “To avoid these problems in the future, we urge election authorities to improve poll workers training and prepare for robust turnout to ensure that all eligible voters are able to exercise their fundamental right to vote. We also encourage voters to check their registration well in advance of Election Day so they can make any necessary corrections before they go to vote.”

Round two for the hotline is set for the Nov. 6th general election. Hotline calls will be answered live on the general election day (Nov. 6, 2018). Calls placed before the election and after-hours calls are directed to voicemail and promptly returned.

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