Civil Rights organization Advancement Project has been one of the most vocal groups ahead of the upcoming general election in November with regards to voter rights.
Combating a variety of issues from voter suppression in key battleground states to putting disruptive practices on notice, Advancement Project aims to provide basic protection of voters and their ability to participate in the electoral process. Some very curious snafus, however, have arisen in the states of Arizona and Ohio that could have very serious consequences.
NewsOne spoke with Advancement Project’s Director of Voter Protection, Katherine Culliton-Gonzalez, about what took place in the two states and what efforts she and her group are taking to make certain voters will not be led astray. In Arizona’s Maricopa County (helmed by controversial sheriff Joe Arpaio), it was discovered this week a Spanish-language bookmark was given out with November 8 marked as Election Day – although general election voting will be held on November 6.
“Maricopa County has an obligation to provide election information material in Spanish because of the large Latino community of Spanish speakers, which is part of the Voting Rights Act,” said Ms. Culliton-Gonzalez. “Twice the same mistake has been made and it’s only been the material for Spanish-speakers which had the wrong date for Election Day. The first time it happened, they said it was a mistake. The second time it happened, they said they used the November 8 date because that was the election date in 2010 and they didn’t update their material. I do think it’s very suspicious that it only happened in the Spanish language forum.”
Maricopa County officials publicly addressed the snafu and claimed they would be sending around the correct date to those who received the bookmark. There were not any public hard numbers of how many of the erroneous bookmarks went out, but Ms. Culliton-Gonzalez was confident that the U.S. Justice Department will investigate the matter in due time.
Ohio, a crucial battleground state for both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, also endured a similar issue. In Ottawa County, a GOP stronghold, 2300 mail inserts were sent out informing voters that Election Day was November 8 and that the location of where they could vote changed. County officials claim that this was a mistake, but Advancement Project and partner groups have been on the ground making certain that the news won’t take hold and informing residents of the correct date and location.
Across the country, there have been numerous reports of attempted voter suppression – especially in Virginia where a Pennsylvania man was accused of destroying voter registration forms. With the race just a mere 11 days away, the public must not only continue to be informed of their rights but also take pride in being civic participants in the face of the many barriers in place.