Tuesday, November 6, 2012
DOJ Slates Election Day Enforcement Effort
By a MetNews Staff Writer
The U.S. Department of Justice will once again have a prosecutor and FBI agents available to investigate claims of voter fraud or other federal election law violations in today’s voting, U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. of the Central District of California said.
“Even a potential violation of voting rights is an extremely serious matter,” Birotte said in a statement late Friday. “Every citizen is entitled to vote without interference or discrimination. Citizens should not hesitate to report possible violations of voting rights laws.”
Birotte has designated Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Mitchell as the DOJ district election officer, an assignment he has held since 2006. District election officers from throughout the country have received special training in enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and other federal election laws.
Mitchell will ensure that complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses made to federal authorities will be properly handled and, if appropriate, thoroughly investigated, Birotte said.
The Department of Justice is committed to deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and federal authorities will combat these violations whenever and wherever they occur, Birotte said. DOJ’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, in part by instilling public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on election day, he added.
While the states have primary responsibility for conducting and policing elections, the federal government has jurisdiction over a number of issues. These include, the U.S. attorney said, intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.
Federal law also prohibits “interrupting or intimidating 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,” Birotte said.
Mitchell can be reached at (213) 894-2484 to report possible election fraud and voting rights abuses, the DOJ release said. It also provided a number for the FBI field office in Los Angeles, where agents will available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day. The number is (310) 477-6565.
“Our voting rights are woven into the fabric of American history and a symbol of our freedom,” Bill L. Lewis, Assistant director in charge of the field office said. “The FBI is committed to ensuring those rights are protected so voters can participate in a fair election next Tuesday.”
Complaints about access to ballots or voting discrimination also may be made directly to the Voting Section at the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department in Washington at (800) 253-3931 or (202) 307-2767. In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com and by a complaint form on the DOJ website: www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company