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Election Protection Hotline up and running, staffed by Twin Cities lawyers and paralegals

Nov 08, 2022 09:36AM ● By Content Editor
Photo: Pawel Czerwinski

By Gordon Severson - KARE 11 News - November 7, 2022

Get the red stickers out, it's time to vote, to fill-in a few circles and go home, right?

Well, sometimes it's not that easy.

Issues, problems and confusion always come up during an election, and there’s a helpful resource that many voters don’t know about.

Jon Van Horn is a lawyer and volunteer with the Election Protection Hotline, a service for anyone who may come across any election-related problems. The number is 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Van Horn and his colleagues at the Dorsey and Whitney law firm have been volunteering with the hotline since 2002.

"I would say the most commonly asked questions we receive are either ‘where is my polling place,’ or ‘what time do I need to be at the polls,’” Van Horn said.

Those are the easy questions. For the tough ones, Van Horn and a team of around 55 lawyers and paralegals are standing by, ready to tackle your toughest problems.

"It's the first election conducted outside the pandemic — so people are returning to the polls — so we're getting some questions from people who voted absentee the last couple of cycles,” Van Horn explained.

Redistricting also creates a lot of problems and questions, but Van Horn says this time around they're also preparing for other kinds of problems.

"'Will there be kind of political activity within the polls? Even disruptions, or violence?' That is something that is on voters' minds,” Van Horn said.

If you ever come across a situation like that, and you don't feel safe, Van Horn says 911 is still the number you should call. If the situation isn't an emergency, Van Horn recommends reporting the problem to an election official on-site first before calling the hotline.

"The first point of contact really ought to be chief election judge at the polling place," Van Horn said. "Make them aware. They may already be aware.

“If a voter feels that the election judge hasn’t resolved their problem, then they call the hotline for help.”

Van Horn says in 2020 their local hotline received more than 1,500 calls between the day before Election Day and Election Day itself. Nationwide Van Horn says the hotline received more than 230,000 calls during the 2020 election.

"Every election cycle our hotline volunteers help someone navigate a problem that might have otherwise prevented them from voting, so that is very gratifying," Van Horn said.

Local volunteers are staffing the hotline Monday and Tuesday, but the number is open nationally year-round.

To read this original story and more news, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.