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About the Report

They went to vote on November 4, 2008, during early voting in the preceding days, or during the primaries, but were thwarted by various barriers. They then called one of two nationwide voter hotlines featured in this report, either 866-MYVOTE1 or 877-GOCNN08 for help. The 866-MYVOTE1 hotline number was marketed by the NAACP National Voter Fund primarily to African-American audiences through the Tom Joyner Morning Show, BlackAmericaWeb.com, American Urban Radio Networks, and the National Coalition of Black Civic Participation. The 877-GOCNN08 hotline number was marketed primarily on CNN and its affili¬ated networks. Calls to either hotline were directed to a center where they were recorded, screened, coded and forwarded to officials in that caller’s election jurisdiction. Callers were notified at the beginning of the call, before they were permitted to record a complaint, that the calls would be recorded and used on Election Day and poten¬tially afterwards, for further study. In targeted states, the calls were monitored in real time by the organizations sponsoring this report, and in various instances follow-up actions were initiated to protect the callers’ voting rights.

The hotlines were created and run by InfoVoter Technologies, a Philadelphia-based firm that partnered with several national media organizations, voting rights groups and labor unions to assist voters on Election Day. Voters calling the 866-MYVOTE1 hotline were provided the option of seeking a voter registration application in the mail via their local election officials, and that hotline received 119,595 calls for that purpose during the 2008 election cycle. The hotlines received a combined total of 105,720 calls seeking information on poll locations.ii And, the hotlines received 68,992 calls, with some overlap, involving various categories of election administration: from polling places not opening on time or operating smoothly; to the voter’s registration information being omitted or incorrectly listed in polling place records; to confusion or misapplication of state or federal voter ID requirements; to machinery failures where no backup or alternative means of voting was offered. The voter hotline calls discussed in this report focus on the six ‘battleground’ states of Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia where voter registration and participation were high.