The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Illinois announced that it is working in connection with the Justice Department to fight fraud and voting rights abuses on election day, Nov. 4.
Federal law protects against such crimes as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input, according to a department press release. Federal law also contains special protections for the rights of voters and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. For example, actions of persons designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them, under the pretext that these are actions to uncover illegal voting, may violate federal voting rights law. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.
"Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud," said U.S. Attorney Stephen Wigginton. "The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The press release states that assistant U.S. attorney Norman R. Smith will be designated as a district election officer who will oversee handling of complaints, in consultation with the Justice Department.
"The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur," the release states.
“The franchise of voting is the cornerstone of American democracy," Wigginton stated. "We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice."
Smith may be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: (618) 628-3700, (618) 628-3743 or (618) 799-8775.
In addition, the Federal Bureau of Investigations will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day.
The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at (618) 397-4401.
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by complaint form at: http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate," Wigginton said. "It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately...
"In so doing, all of our citizens may enjoy the benefits of our free and fair election system."