Testimony by Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights before the Indiana Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights
Submitted by Ami Gandhi, Director of Voting Rights & Civic Empowerment for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Matthew J. Owens from Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C.
The Voting Rights Project of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee was established to eliminate, reduce,
and prevent barriers to voting for communities of color and low-income residents in Illinois. We
advocate for expanded voter access for all communities, regardless of race, ethnicity,
socioeconomic, or disability status. A major component of our work is Election Protection, the
nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection program, which operates the 866-OUR-VOTE
hotline and supports companion lines at 888-VE-Y-VOTA and 888-API-VOTE. Election
Protection hotline and poll watcher volunteers have answered thousands of voter questions and
resolved numerous problems at the polls. That puts us in a unique position to understand voter
access barriers, investigate and remedy problematic practices, provide information on voting
rights, and advocate for necessary reforms. While our work is primarily focused in Illinois, we
also have experience answering calls from Indiana voters to 866-OUR-VOTE, and we are proud
to partner with Indiana-based nonpartisan organizations on various voting rights initiatives.
For the November 2016 general election, we trained and deployed hundreds of volunteer attorneys
as part of our Election Protection program. Regardless of their diverse political views, our
volunteers stand united in the belief that all eligible voters should have access to the polls.
Together we answered over 300 calls from voters in Indiana during that election and helped voters
with a range of issues, from routine questions about polling place location and hours to more
serious reports of voter intimidation and exclusion from the polls. This testimony summarizes
concerns that arose before, during, and after election day.
For the full testimony, click here.