Cross-posted from DPVA Voter Protection Council Blog, 5/21/2015, By Georgina Cannan, Voter Protection Council Co-Chair
Voter protection is an important part of any campaign and it is crucial to one of the fundamental principles of the Democratic Party: when every eligible voter votes, Democrats win. Voter protection programs work to ensure all eligible Virginians are able to vote and have their votes counted. As we start to build the DPVA Voter Protection Council, it’s important to recognize how much we accomplished working together last year.
Before last Election Day, we held 18 in-person training sessions for poll observers in every region of the Commonwealth and we expanded and reworked the trainings materials for the poll observer program, the legal boiler room, and the voter hotline. For the first time in Virginia, we opened a voter hotline at the start of Absentee in Person voting on September 19th, and we assisted 3,387 voters between September 19th and Election Day.We had almost 460 volunteers on Election Day working across the Commonwealth as poll observers and in the boiler room answering voter protection questions. Our boiler room, working with our poll observers, resolved 627 incidents that impacted anywhere from one voter to an entire precinct. After Election Day, Voter Protection worked to staff the canvass and run the provisional ballot chase. There were a little over 3,600 provisional votes cast; 773 of which were ID related provisional ballots. During the chase, we made almost 2,500 calls to provisional voters who were likely Democrats to assist them in getting their votes counted.
In addition to our poll observer and voter hotline programs and our post-election day work, we collaborated with Virginia’s election administration officials, including the Department of Elections, the State Board of Elections, local electoral boards, and general registrars, to address potential problems prior to Election Day. We also coordinated with the Democratic Party of Virginia and with local committees to spread the word about the new photo ID law and we helped to coordinate a Day of Action, during which local committees called voters without DMV issued photo IDs to spread the word about the new law.
The Democratic Coordinated Campaign’s Voter Protection Program was able to achieve an incredible amount in a short period of time due to the hard work and enthusiasm of local committees. Although we accomplished a lot last year, there is a limited amount a campaign can achieve in the brief time that it is on the ground, which is why the work of the Voter Protection Council will be vital to strengthening Virginia’s voter protection program. Helping people exercise their fundamental right to vote is an amazing feeling. The belief that they should be able to vote is one of the reasons we are all Democrats. We have a very important election this year and a Presidential Election to prepare for next year, in which Virginia will be a key state. Lets make sure that voters are equipped with the knowledge they need to cast their vote.