(NationalUSNews.com) — The Brennan Center for Justice is a progressive nonprofit law and public policy institute at the New York University School of Law (NYU Law). The director of their Voting Rights Program, Sean Morales-Doyle, defines voter intimidation as any action that may intimidate voters or scare them away from exercising their constitutional right to vote. He says this would include in-person tactics like standing in or around voting locations in an overtly threatening way or just in a way that makes people uncomfortable.
Morales-Doyle adds that while some states have provisions in place for people to challenge other voters’ eligibility, that does not give them license to do so in an intimidating fashion. He says that laws against voter intimidation don’t specify specific conduct that would be included under that heading, so it could also include things like robocalls, taking photos of license plates, filming people at the polls or drop boxes, or even fliers or pamphlets, depending on the messages those conveyed. However, there are things people can do if they feel they are being intimidated at the polls.
A voter, or witness to voter intimidation, should prioritize their own safety and avoid confronting the person trying to intimidate them, but be sure to document the incident in as much detail as you can. Remember, voter intimidation is a federal crime. Let municipal clerks or election officials know that voter intimidation is taking place. In addition to documenting and alerting on-site officials, voters should call the Election Protection Hotline, which is run by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. This hotline is available in several languages, and interpreters may be available.
Lastly, do not be intimidated, even if your right to vote is challenged. Challenges made on the basis of discrimination against someone for their race, ethnicity, language ability, or gender are invalid. Election officials are required to let someone vote even if they are challenged if the challenger cannot provide proof of their claims. The challenger has the right to be heard but is not allowed to remain and intimidate anyone after they have made their claim. Your local Board of Elections will be able to clarify any local laws or guidelines regarding your voting rights.
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