Protecting Voters In March’s Primaries

It’s only March, but here at Common Cause we are laser-focused on protecting voters in the 2024 election. Already, we’ve placed hundreds of volunteers at primary voting locations across the country and helped thousands of voters make their voices heard.

Why? Because the issues voters face in the primary will show up even worse in the general – unless we fix them. Primary elections are important in their own right, but they’re also a useful “stress test” of our Election Protection program to make sure we’re ready for whatever happens.

That’s especially important this year, as voters in many states face new restrictions, rules,and even voting districts. Now, our team is analyzing data and sharing what we’ve learned with local election officials – so they can properly allocate their resources in time for November.


Here’s some state-by-state highlights:

Common Cause Arizona and our partners fielded dozens of volunteers in Maricopa and Pima Counties, the two most populous in the state. Our team assisted voters in multiple languages – including those  who had questions about voting in the Presidential Preference Election as an independent or voting uncommitted, since there is no option to do that or write-in a candidate in Arizona. We also partnered with the ASU Indian Legal clinic to help Native voters cast their ballots.

California Common Cause partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus to field over 300 volunteers! We also celebrated the implementation of new language access requirements, which let more Californians get the language support they needed to vote. You can hear two of our volunteers in their own words here:

@commoncauseca Meet Stella! As an Election Protection volunteer, Stella has the opportunity to support voters in casting their ballot! ⭐️ #vote2024 #democracy #ourcommoncause ♬ original sound - California Common Cause
@commoncauseca Meet Brian! He is one of our Election Protection volunteers who spent his day helping eligible voters exercise their rights! ⭐️ #vote2024 #democracy #ourcommoncause ♬ original sound - California Common Cause

Common Cause Illinois placed poll monitors who supported voters and coordinated closely with the Chicago Board of Elections. Our poll monitors found a relatively higher number of technical problems in the early hours of voting, but other than that, the elections mostly ran quite smoothly. 

Common Cause Michigan focused on helping voters deal with new ways to access the ballot in the state with new measures approved in Prop 2 last year – including early vote, voting absentee, and expanded Voter ID. We covered 118 priority polling locations across the state, and placed additional election challengers to monitor the elections from inside the polling place. We also helped multiple voters navigate accessibility challenges at their polling places.

Common Cause North Carolina has recruited over 50 volunteers to monitor the post-election canvass, tracking incidents in 40 different counties across the state.and so far we’ve received 95 reports. Many of North Carolina’s voting rules are confusing by design – and our team helped voters navigate the new voter ID requirements or properly follow up on their provisional ballots. Voters also struggled with the new deadline for mail-in ballots, which now need to arrive by 7:30 p.m. on Election Day, which meant many voters’ ballots that arrived later were tossed out.

Common Cause Ohio mobilized around 100 poll monitors to help voters during the 2024 primary. More than 250 Citizens Not Politicians volunteer circulators were provided with Election Protection Hotline resources so that they were ready to help voters at the polls if needed. Turnout numbers eclipsed the 2022 primary, with many voters taking advantage of early vote and vote-by-mail options. Election Protection Ambassadors put nearly 500 yard signs at polling locations, distributed 15,000 promotional cards and hundreds of posters with information about 866-OUR-VOTE.

Common Cause Texas Texas is one of the hardest states to vote in – with restrictive voter registration deadlines and heavily gerrymandered districts. Volunteers covered 90 shifts during early voting and Election Day  – among the issues we dealt with were a wildfire that impacted some Panhandle polling stations, an issue with the voter registration database that was quickly resolved, and a late-opening polling place. In all of these cases, our volunteers helped to make sure that impacted voters were still able to make their voices heard.

Common Cause Florida and our partners in the Florida Election Protection Coalition monitored voting in 11 counties, particularly in locations holding municipal elections. Many voters had different polling locations than they did in 2022 due to redistricting and new voting precincts. Changes to vote by mail were particularly confusing for voters, since many were not aware they needed to redo their mail ballot request from scratch under new state rules. We also observed increased law enforcement presence at many polling locations, which could potentially intimidate marginalized voters.