Election Protection Coalition Open Letter to Political Parties Concerning Voter Intimidation

Election Protection Coalition Open Letter to Political Parties Concerning Voter Intimidation

August 31, 2016

Election Protection Coalition Cites Demos Research in Urging Political Parties to Renounce Unwarranted Intimidation and Unlawful Challenges at the Polls

Dear Party Leadership,

We write in defense of the bedrock principle of our democracy: the right to vote freely.

Recent calls to activate law enforcement near and within polling places and to deploy observers against imagined voter fraud in the upcoming presidential election threaten to subvert the democratic process by silencing the voices of American citizens. Election monitoring can be appropriate if conducted in a manner that facilitates rather than hinders participation by all eligible voters, consistent with all applicable federal and state laws. However, unsubstantiated predictions of voter fraud and rigged elections, coupled with the demagogic rhetoric of the last few months towards minority communities, constitute an unacceptable targeting of those members of our society most vulnerable to disenfranchisement. It raises concerns in our organizations that communities of color will face unwarranted intimidation and unlawful challenges, impeding the ability of voters, particularly voters of color, to exercise their right to vote in the fall.

Racial minorities have faced a long and painful history of intimidation at the ballot box, through many of the same methods proposed in recent weeks1 . There is no place for harassment of voters in American democracy. Past intimidation at the polls has led to a court order restraining precisely this type of behavior.

We urge you to act with deliberate speed to denounce this dangerous effort. You must make it clear that baseless challenges are not acceptable, and that the Voting Rights Act expressly prohibits intimidation of voters by anyone, whether acting under color of law or otherwise.

As members of the non-partisan Election Protection coalition, our organizations will remain steadfast in our work towards safeguarding access to the voting booth for all eligible Americans, regardless of political affiliation, race, disability, sexual orientation, or gender. All voters may rely upon the Election Protection hotlines2 (866-OUR-VOTE, 888-VE-Y-VOTA, 888- API-VOTE) for questions and to report problems. Our staff and trained non-partisan volunteers will work unstintingly to uphold the right to vote against intimidation, deceptive practices, and unlawful challenges, so that every eligible voter is able to cast their ballot and have it count.

We can preserve our most sacred of rights only through free, fair, and accessible elections. We seek your commitment to combat this threat to our democracy, with the fierce urgency of now.


The Election Protection Coalition



Advancement Project

African American Ministers Leadership Council

Alliance for Justice

American Civil Liberties Union

American Constitution Society for Law and Policy

American Federation of Teachers

American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC)

Arizona Advocacy Network

Arizona AFL-CIO

Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF)

Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC

Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote)

Brennan Center for Justice

Campaign Legal Center

Center for American Progress

Center for Media and Democracy

Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

Common Cause

Crescent City Media Group

Democracy North Carolina


Fair Elections Legal Network

Franciscan Action Network

Keystone Votes

LatinoJustice PRLDEF

Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area

Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law

League of United Latin American Citizens

League of Women Voters


NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc.

NAACP-National Voter Fund

National Action Network

National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund

National Association of Social Workers (NASW)

National Bar Association

National Congress of American Indians

National Council of Jewish Women

National Disability Rights Network

Nebraskans for Civic Reform

New Florida Majority

New Virginia Majority

Ohio Voice

People For the American Way Foundation

Progress Virginia Education Fund

Project Vote

Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia

Public Counsel

Rock the Vote

Service Employees International Union

Southern Poverty Law Center

Texas Civil Rights Project

The Bus Federation

The Center for Popular Democracy

The Voter Participation Center

Union for Reform Judaism

United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries

Verified Voting


Voting Rights Institute, Georgetown University Law Center

Voto Latino

Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs

Virginia Civic Engagement Table

Wisconsin Voices

Young People For

Young Elected Officials Network


  1. For more background on how overly zealous challenges are a threat to voting rights, see: http://www.demos.org/publication/bullies-ballot-box-protecting-freedom-vote-against-wrongful-challenges-and-intimidation
  2. English language assistance is available via 866-OUR-VOTE, is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Bilingual (English & Spanish) language assistance is available via 888-VE-Y-VOTA, is led by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. Asian language assistance is available via 888-API-VOTE, is led by Asian American Justice Center—AAJC and APIA Vote.