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Legal Challenge to Virginia True the Vote

Legal Challenge to Virginia True the Vote

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Published by Rishi Awatramani
Out-of-state group True the Vote developed a training manual to train vote intimidators for the 2012 election. Civil Rights groups from across Virginia have identified the legally deceptive practices of True the Vote and submitted them for review. Here you can see the original training manual, preceded by the legal challenge launched by statewide progressive organizations.
Out-of-state group True the Vote developed a training manual to train vote intimidators for the 2012 election. Civil Rights groups from across Virginia have identified the legally deceptive practices of True the Vote and submitted them for review. Here you can see the original training manual, preceded by the legal challenge launched by statewide progressive organizations.

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Rishi Awatramani on Nov 02, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 November 2, 2012Secretary of the Virginia State Board of Elections Don Palmer1100 Bank Street,Richmond, VA 23219Chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections Charlie Judd1100 Bank Street,Richmond, VA 23219Vice-Chairman of the Virginia State Board of Elections Kimberly Bowers1100 Bank Street,Richmond, VA 23219Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, II900 East Main StreetRichmond, VA 23219United States Attorney Neil MacBride2100 Jamieson AveAlexandria, VA 22314United States Attorney Timothy J. HeaphyPost Office Box 1709Roanoke, Virginia 24008-1709Dear Sirs and Madam:We write to strongly request your immediate attention and action to remedy the poll watcher
training activities of “True
the Vote
in Virginia.
The True the Vote’s Virginia training materials provide incorrect and misleading guidance about
Virginia law and voting procedures.
Virginia poll watchers that rely on the erroneous “training” in True the Vote’s poll watcher 
manual pose a grave risk of fostering an environment of confusion, hostility and intimidation.Worse, these ill-trained poll watchers could intentionally or inadvertently make it harder forVirginians to vote, especially new voters, voters of color, voters who need language assistance,and voters with physical disabilities.It is critical that you protect eligible Virginia voters from the potentially suppressive tactics of 
 poll watchers relying on True the Vote’s Virginia Poll Watcher training manual. The errors are
numerous and serious.
We urge you to have the counties remind the chief officers that under Virginia Code § 24.2-604,the chief officers have the authority to remove persons, including poll watchers, who aredisturbing, disrupting, or delaying the voting process.
The document, “True the Vote Virginia
Training,” is attache
d. This document ispresented as a Virginia specific manual, however large sections include misleading or inaccurateboilerplate language cut and paste from other True the Vote state manuals, including Coloradoand Texas.Here are some of the statements from the training manual that are plainly wrong and highlymisleading. The bulleted statements are taken directly from the training manual; the sub-bulletpoint provides the inaccuracy and our suggested response.
: Page 36
[Under “Voting After the Poll is Closed”]
“If a vote is cast after the
legal closing time, it should be cast as a provisional ballot and separated from those votes
 before the legal closing time.”
: Virginia law is clear: if a voter is in line at 7:00pm, even if the votercasts a ballot after 7:00pm, the voter casts a regular ballot, not a provisionalballot. In other words, everyone in line at the closing of polls in Virginia isentitled to vote with a regular ballot.
: Page 7 [Unde
r “Election Officials”]: “The chairman for the State Board of Elections is the Chief Election Officer for the state of Virginia.”
: The Chief Election Officer for the Commonwealth of Virginia is theSecretary of the State Board of Elections, Secretary Palmer.
: Page 23
[Under “Voting Area”]: “
[I]n the case of voters requiring assistancein a language other than English, a [party or candidate] representative with proficiency in
that language may be asked to assist.”
: Virginia Code § 24.2-604 was amended in the previous legislativesession to prohibit an authorized representative [party or candidate] to provideassistance in any case permitted under § 24.2-649. Virginia Code § 24.2-604
states that, “
Authorized representatives shall not be allowed in any case to provideassistance to any voter as permitted under § 24.2-649 or to wear any indicationthat they are authorized to assist voters either inside the polling place or within 40feet of any entrance to the polling place.
: Page 23
[Under “Voter Check 
In”]: “Voter states name and current address
and election officer repeat name and address. Officer asks voter to present acceptableform of ID: his Commonwealth of Virginia voter registration card, his social security
card, his valid Virginia driver’s license, his concealed handgun permit issued pursuant to
§18.2-308, or any other identification card issued by a government agency of theCommonwealth, one of its political subdivisions, or the United States; any valid studentidentification card issued by any institution of higher education located in theCommonwealth of Virginia; any valid employee identification card containing aphotograph of the voter and issued by an employer of the voter in the ordinary course of 
the employer’s business; or a copy of a current utility bill statement, government check,or paycheck that shows the name and address of the voter.”
: The State Board of Election’s acceptable voter identification chart
shows that voters may also present a tribal enrollment or other tribal ID providedby one of the 11 tribes recognized in Virginia, a military ID, or an expired
Virginia driver’s license that is within 30 days of expiration.
: Page 32 [Under “Challenging Voters or A
In Ballots”]: “The
Poll Lead or Assistant (usually together) can make a decision to uphold or overrule your
challenge. Take careful notes of everything said during this process. It’s also possible
that the Poll Lead or Assistant may determine that a final decision on the challengecannot be reached. In this case, they should allow the challenged voter to vote by
 provisional ballot only.”
: Pursuant to Virginia Code § 24.2-651, any challenged voter whosigns a statement under felony penalty attesting to their eligibility shall cast a
regular ballot (i.e., “shall be permitted to vote on the voting system in use at the precinct.”)
: Page 33
[Under “What to Watch For”]: “At the check 
-in area, watch toensure that voters are presenting the ID required by your state law and that the ElectionWorkers are checking the address on the ID against the address in the voter book/poll
 book/online record.”
: Nowhere in Virginia law does it say that a valid Virginia ID forvoting purposes must have an address on it. Not all legal forms of ID under
Virginia Code contain a current address. Furthermore, according to the SBEs“What If” guide, there are multiple instances where a voter may cast a regular 
ballot even if the address on their ID does not match the address in the poll book.
For instance, the voters’ ID may contain a mailing address, not a physical address
or the voter could have moved within the same precinct.
: Page 34
[Under “What to Watch For (continued)”]: “Watch to ensure that the
Election Workers are instructing each voter to sign the voter book or digitally sign theironline record, as needed. The Election Worker should compare these signatures against
the ID presented or against the voter book signatures on record, per your state’s practic
: There is no requirement under Virginia law for voters to sign thepoll book or for election workers to compare signatures. Virginia law does notrequire that eligible IDs contain a signature.Your attention to this matter is all the more important because a prominent True the Vote officialcompared trained poll observers to police officers, which implies that poll watchers are charged
with enforcing the law. The organization’s National Elections Coordinator Bill Ouren told
attendees at a
True the Vote event that “
for any of you that have seen qualified, capable
observers in action, it’s kind of like driving down the road and looking up in that
rearviewmirror and seeing that there is an officer of the law following you
Misinformed, wrongly
trained poll watchers may be inclined to harass, intimidate, or interfere with a qualified voter’s

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