Anonymous callers try to trick, intimidate voters from polls

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Students wait in line to vote on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) on September 28, 2012 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Most of the voters in the line walked from a nearby rally with first lady Michelle Obama to the polling place to cast their votes. Yesterday Iowa began early voting in select locations throughout the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Students wait in line to vote on the campus of the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) on September 28, 2012 in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Most of the voters in the line walked from a nearby rally with first lady Michelle Obama to the polling place to cast their votes. Yesterday Iowa began early voting in select locations throughout the state. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Reports from election officials and voter protection organizations say some African-American, Spanish-speaking and elderly voters have been targeted by voter-suppression groups trying to trick or intimidate them into not voting in the presidential election November.

The Huffington Post reports the Virginia State Board of Elections and Florida’s Election Protection coalition have both warned voters about anonymous phone calls that claim people can cast their ballot over the phone.

The Virginia State Board of Elections released a statement last week informing people that “some Virginia voters, particularly older Virginians, are receiving phone calls from unidentified individuals informing voters that they can vote over the phone. This information is false.”

The Board is not certain how widespread the calls are yet.

The Election Protection hotline, run by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, is also investigating claims from voters about calls into African-American and Spanish-language radio stations in Florida threatening that election officials will be checking car insurance and registration status at the polls.

According to Eric Marshall, manager of legal mobilization at the lawyer’s committee, a voter alerted the hotline about receiving a call from an anonymous person, claiming a new law allows voters to vote by the phone with just a name and address. The voter says the caller knew the person’s name, address and party affiliation.

Marshall said this isn’t a new voter suppression tactic, “but it’s early” in the election process.

“I guess with the increase of early voting, they’re moving these types of tactics up earlier,” Marshall said.

The Election Protection hotline is advising people who get these calls to ask for the name of the caller’s organization and their phone number and report the information to 866-OUR-VOTE.

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