This past Election Day, organizations across Wisconsin worked together to set up a voter protection hotline with the aim of educating voters, reducing problems at polling locations and increasing overall voter turnout.
The hotline was part of a nationwide push to ensure voters have the correct information about voting. Volunteer nonpartisan attorneys answered phone calls all day to help voters with any questions or concerns they had about the process, according to a statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin.
Common Cause in Wisconsin was involved in the hotline, and its executive director, Jay Heck, said the toll-free calls would clear up confusions voters had and clear up misinformation on what is required to vote. Heck said he was pleased with the election turnout, and many voters were determined to make their voices heard.
“The hotline was set up so voters would have a toll-free number to call to find out information such as polling place, what they needed to bring, if anything, to the polls, and how to register on Election Day,” Heck said.
Stacy Harbaugh, spokesperson for the ACLU, outlined the support her group gave, with more than 12 attorneys from her group helping Wisconsin voters through the hotline.
The coalition encouraged voters to call the number to express any problems they encountered at the polls. Harbaugh said the attorneys then contacted polling locations to fix the problems or send volunteers out to help.
“Over a dozen attorneys were there answering phones, and there were other attorney volunteers throughout Wisconsin, out in the field, answering calls and being displaced when there was trouble,” Harbaugh said. “Overall, there were hundreds of people helping.”
Although she said various issues came up on Election Day, such as long lines and failure of some machines, Harbaugh said these issues are normal on elections with high turnout. She said election officials did a good job at ensuring Election Day went well.
Harbaugh said there was not an exact count of calls they received, but it was definitely in the thousands. She said she thinks the hotline served its purpose and was very effective.
“We were really glad people knew about the hotline, and used it to get the help they needed,” Harbaugh said. “We had a relatively smooth voting experience in Madison.”