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Government & Politics
Election Protection is WKSU’s community information initiative focused on access, policy and community resources around voting this November.

Mass Texts Encourage Challenging Voters; Lawyer Says That's Illegal

A 'voting today' sign outside of an Ohio polling station
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
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Katrina Suing
A voter from Tallmadge shared a text message she received that urges people to take action that is illegal.

Voters in Northeast Ohio are getting mass-texts encouraging them to challenge people at the polls who they don’t think should be voting. The message encourages them to take guns and claims, in part, that “It’s our right as American citizens to stop anyone who looks like they are voting illegally.”

But the federal Voting Rights Act prohibits non-election officials from harassing voters.

Jon Greenbaum is chief counsel of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law and a former Justice Department lawyer. He recommends that voters immediately alert poll workers if they’re challenged. He says they can also call a national hotline.

Mass Texts Encourage Challenging Voters; Lawyer Says That's Illegal

“We will help in terms of getting the election official on the line, in some places there are people working with our program who will actually go down to the polling place and observe what’s happening.”

The hotline number is 866-OUR-VOTE.

Ohio does not specifically prohibit guns in polling places, but most are in schools and churches that do forbid weapons on their property.