Monday, November 3, 2014
Justice Department 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 tomorrow’s voting, acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Yonekura of the Central District of California said Friday.
“Every citizen is entitled to have his or her vote counted without interference or discrimination,” Yonekura said in a statement. “Citizens should not hesitate to report possible violations of voting rights laws. The Justice Department is committed to act promptly to protect the integrity of the election process.”
Yonekura 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, Yonekura 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, the acting U.S. attorney 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,” she 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 acting 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 harassing or intimidating voters, Yonekura said.
“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—ma violate federal voting rights law,” the statement read. “Further, federal law protects the right or voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.”
The government provided a number for the FBI field office in Los Angeles, where it said agents will be available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses tomorrow. The number is (310) 996-3829.
“The ability to vote in America is a sacred right, and voters are entitled to cast their ballots in a fair and lawful environment,” Bill L. Lewis, assistant director in charge of the field office said.
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, the department said. In addition, individuals may also report such complaints by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com or by using a form on the DOJ website: www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.
Copyright 2014, Metropolitan News Company