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VA Sued Over Lack Of Election Day Preparedness

Advancement Project Sues Virginia Governor and Top Commonwealth Election Officials for Lack of Election Day Preparedness

October 27

Press Release

Today, Advancement Project, on behalf of the Virginia State Conference NAACP, sued Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and top Commonwealth election officials for unconstitutional allocation of polling place resources. Despite local officials in some of the larger jurisdictions anticipating 80 percent to 85 percent of the registered voters will turn out to vote, compared to 67 percent to 71 percent in the last Presidential election in 2004, Virginia has too few resources committed to Election Day.

The polling place resource problem is particularly acute in the cities of Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach. In particular, election officials in Richmond, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach have adopted resource allocation plans that unconstitutionally and otherwise unlawfully under- or mis-allocate polling place resources, including, specifically, voting machines and poll workers, in a manner that infringes and burdens the rights of the voters in these cities and that disfranchises voters in these locales, including, particularly, African-American voters in Richmond and Virginia Beach.

The case filed by Advancement Project, the NAACP and the law firm of Hill, Tucker & Marsh states that the Governor and other election officials’ inaction violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States of Constitution, Section Two of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Virginia Constitution.

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A recent report by Advancement Project showed that the Commonwealth of Virginia is not prepared to meet the challenge of administering the general election on November 4th, where turnout will be unprecedented. Advancement Project obtained public records and other public information on the allocation, at the precinct level, of voting machines (or, in the case of jurisdictions that use optical scan machines, voting privacy booths) and poll workers in the following jurisdictions: Alexandria, Fairfax County, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach.

Advancement Project's research in Virginia showed:

1. In many jurisdictions, voting machines, privacy booths, and poll workers have either been mis-allocated or are simply insufficient to accommodate all those who may turn out to vote on November 4, 2008. This will likely result in extremely long lines at the polls and "lost" voters unless these problems are addressed beforehand.

2. In some of the jurisdictions the allocation of polling place resources is likely to have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. In other words, there will be fewer voting machines or poll workers per voter in high minority precincts than in low minority precincts.

In some jurisdictions, the location of polling places has a disproportionate impact on certain communities, including communities of color. In essence, voters from these communities have to travel greater distances to even have an opportunity to vote.


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