Election VOTELine

A KaiserBy Alyssa Kaiser, Class of 2019

The 2017 Election in Virginia was contested in a number of different races, and the state election gained national spotlight. As it turns out, the gubernatorial election was not all that close, but after the election, the results in some races were so close that there are still contested seats in the House of Delegates, as issues arose specifically surrounding voting administration and polling place errors. It will be interesting to see how the recounts play out and if there is a meaningful remedy.

William & Mary’s Election Law Society set up a VOTEline on November 7th so that voters all over Virginia could call in and ask any questions that presented themselves on Election Day. The voters could ask any questions, but the most expected were in regard to proper polling places and verifying the proper use of photo ID.

The coordinators of the VOTEline were Matthew Catron (1L) and Alannah Shubrick (2L), and they were very organized and helpful to all of the volunteers. I was excited about the election and volunteered to field questions through the VOTEline on Election Day. After some training the day before, mainly using guidance documents, I was excited to assist voters!

When I arrived to work my shift, I was updated on some issues that arose earlier in the day, specifically regarding students and their voter ID, and also voters that appeared on the inactive voter list. In some of these situations, voters were offered to vote provisionally by poll workers. However, a provisional ballot is rarely ever counted, so this was a problematic remedy. Indeed, given the recounts, provisional ballots will be a hotly contested issue.

I was fortunate to speak with a voter that needed his polling place identified and to know the candidates on the ballot in his voting district. Although relatively easy to do with the tools that I was provided, it was helpful to the voter.

The VOTEline was a fun and interesting project to be involved in and was truly helpful to those voters who had questions. It is nice to know that the Law School provides a service to the Virginia community, especially regarding something as important as the right to vote.