Election officials called on to protect voters

National organizations warn against harassment, intimidation

Headline Goes Here Effie Nidam/CNN

ORLANDO, Fla. - With less than a month to go before Election Day 2012, an alliance of civil rights, human rights and other organizations sent letters this week to the chief election officials in 10 battleground states calling on them to take steps to protect American voters from unlawful intimidation and harassment at the polls.

The organizations include Rock The Vote, League of Rural Voters, Communication Workers of America, and Black Leadership Forum.

"The right to vote is the most precious right of every American citizen and the most fundamental principle of our great democracy," said Arlene Holt Baker, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO, another organization that has signed the letter.  "And so we are asking secretaries of state, in their roles as chief election officials, to take a few simple but vital actions to protect the integrity of our elections, and ensure that every eligible American can cast a ballot without being wrongfully harassed or illegally challenged."

The letters—which were sent to officials in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia—ask elections officials to ensure election integrity by preparing their poll workers to properly deal with those who might interfere with voters through intimidation.

Civil rights leaders are concerned with mounting threats of voter intimidation citing recent incidents in Ohio where, the alliance claims, a voter suppression campaign is underway targeting college students, low-income residents, homeless people, and people of color in 13 counties. The alliance says eligible voters have already come forward to complain that they have been wrongfully and unlawfully targeted.

"What we've seen too often in recent years is partisan groups casting a wide-net in minority communities, attempting to intimidate eligible voters, create chaos, and slow down voting in targeted precincts," said Niel Ritchie, Executive Director of the League of Rural Voters. "These illegal challenges undermine the integrity of our elections, and have no place in our democracy."

Local 6 is awaiting a response from state election officials in Florida.

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