Voters can also call nonpartisan hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE
On Tuesday, voters who have questions or encounter problems can get help from trained volunteers who are part of the nation’s largest and longest-running nonpartisan voter assistance program.
The Election Protection program started 19 years ago, in the wake of the 2000 presidential election. Now run by a nonpartisan coalition of more than 100 organizations, the program has more than 40,000 volunteers nationwide, including 250 in Rhode Island.
This year, the program includes three ways to answer questions and provide assistance to voters;
- Election Protection telephone hotlines, including 866-OUR-VOTE, which voters can reach by phone call or text;
- an in-person “poll monitor” program, with volunteers stationed at polling places across Rhode Island; and
- a “social media monitoring” program, with volunteers looking for and responding to social media posts from voters looking for help or to report a problem.
The suite of Election Protection hotlines can provide help in a variety of languages:
- For assistance in English, call or text 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683); this hotline is administered by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
- For Spanish: call 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682); this hotline is provided by NALEO Educational Fund.
- For Arabic, call 844-YALLA-US (844- 925-5287); this hotline is managed by the Arab American Institute.
- For help in a variety of Asian and Pacific Island languages, call 888-API-VOTE (888-273-8683); this hotline is run by APIAVote and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-AAJC.
On November 3rd, more than 100 nonpartisan volunteers will be at polling places in 38 of Rhode Island’s 39 cities and towns, safely interacting with voters while keeping to social distancing and public health rules. They come from a variety of backgrounds and have become Election Protection poll monitors for different reasons.
Two of them tell their stories here:
Dr. Mariel Phillip
I reside in the city of Providence RI and worked as an Election Protection Volunteer for Primary Election Day at the Stephen Olney School in North Providence. Not only am I a mother but I practice as a Chiropractic Physician here in the city of Providence, I am a woman of color and a small business owner of Heart Chiropractic and Wellness.
I volunteered as an Election Protection Monitor because this election is of high importance to me and my family. This year has taken a toll on many families and their health but it has also been revealing how powerful our collective voices are. Voting is a right and a privilege that has the capability to direct the narrative of how an individual’s life is handled, how freedoms are protected and how our health and livelihood are maintained.
As an Election Protection Monitor, you are placed in a position to see first hand how democracy is played out from the local level to the federal level. It’s a life changing experience that broadens your outlook on how resources are afforded in your community and schools, ethical codes are upheld in your workplaces and how city officials and leadership are held to high standards.
I live in Warren, RI. I am originally from Texas, but moved up here to attend law school at Roger Williams. I’m now in my third year. I started volunteering with Common Cause before the primary election earlier this year. I feel that helping others get info about how and where to vote is a way I can provide a direct benefit when they might not know where to start looking for answers.
I see voting as both a right and a responsibility that goes with citizenship. It’s a way we can influence the foundation and formation of the laws that govern our society. Most people want in on that, but sometimes they need help figuring out how.
With record numbers of voters and the COVID situation, I feel like people who want to vote have a few extra hurdles to clear, so I am looking forward to being at a polling place on Election Day to assist with questions, direct people where to drop or cast their ballot so they have confidence they voted and made it count.
Being a non-partisan poll monitor is a good way to benefit the election process itself. It doesn’t take too long to learn where to look up the information you need to help people vote, so for anyone looking for a way to help put politics aside and still help people with the political process, I definitely recommend getting involved with Common Cause in time for future elections.