“Just one instance of fraud or one citizen who cannot exercise the power to vote .... is too many. Our work continues until every qualified citizen in every community in America has an equal chance to vote - and to have that vote count.” - Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales, October 4, 2005
For over 30 years, the Justice Department has had an Election Day program to ensure the right of eligible voters to cast their votes and help shape the nation’s political leadership.
The Department of Justice has responsibility for enforcing federal civil rights laws guaranteeing voting rights and for prosecuting voter fraud. The Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions of the Department of Justice are involved in election matters to ensure both ballot access and ballot integrity.
The Criminal Division and the Department’s 93 U.S. Attorneys are responsible for enforcing the election fraud laws passed by Congress and signed by the President.
The Civil Rights Division is charged with enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as well as the National Voter Registration Act, both of which are designed to guarantee access to the polls on Election Day.
In October 2002, the Department established a new law enforcement initiative, called the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, to provide increased protections against election fraud and voting rights abuses. The Initiative mandated increased Department-wide efforts to enforce federal civil rights laws guaranteeing voting rights as well as to deter, and if necessary, investigate and prosecute voter fraud.
The Justice Department will have its Election Day program in place for the November 8, 2005 elections.
Election Day Program
“Election crimes strike at the core of our representative system of government. Vigorous investigation and prosecution of those who commit election crimes thus serves two important goals: first, to punish those responsible for these crimes and to dismantle their corrupt machines, and, second, to assure the public that the integrity of the election process is one of the Department’s highest priorities.” - Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Alice S. Fisher
“Protecting access to the ballot for all eligible voters on Election Day is a major priority of the Civil Rights Division. We are committed to safeguarding the voting rights of all Americans.” - Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Bradley J. Schlozman
On November 8, 2005, the Department of Justice will have in place its nationwide program to guarantee access to the polls, protect individual voting rights, and deter voter fraud and voter intimidation. In those districts where voting activity will take place, federal prosecutors, investigators, and Civil Rights Division attorneys will be readily available to the public for the purpose of receiving complaints and taking any appropriate action when the polls are open on Election Day. When the polls open, the resources of the Department of Justice - both in Washington, D.C. and in the states - will be available to handle complaints, ensure access, and open investigations.
The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section has assigned attorneys to assist with potential voter fraud cases, as needed.
Lawyers with the Public Integrity Section will be on duty from the time the polls open on the East Coast until the time they close on the West Coast to provide consultation and coordination with the Department’s District Election Officers.
Since the 2002 commencement of the Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, the Criminal Division and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices have opened nearly 200 criminal investigations of alleged election fraud or voter intimidation. Over 120 of these investigations are currently pending. In addition, since the Initiative began, over 95 persons have been charged with election fraud offenses, and over 55 of these defendants have been convicted.
The Justice Department will enforce the laws that prohibit:
voter intimidation; voting by ineligible individuals; bribery of voters; destruction of valid ballots or registrations; altering vote tallies; multiple voting; absentee ballot fraud; malfeasance by election officials; and ballot- box tampering or destruction.
Civil Rights Division:
On Election Day, Civil Rights Division personnel will be available at a toll free number to receive complaints.
Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice Department has regularly sent observers around the country to protect the voting rights of all citizens, including minority and elderly voters. This year, the Civil Rights Division will once again have monitors and observers in cities and towns across the country to ensure access to the polls, and to enforce our nation’s civil rights laws.
The Division has been engaged in a major outreach effort to minority groups and election officials to inform jurisdictions of their obligations under the Language Minority Provision of the Voting Rights Act. The Division will enforce the law that requires jurisdictions meeting certain criteria to provide bilingual access to elections.
The Division will enforce existing consent decrees.
Election Day Contact Information:
Voting Section [COMPLAINTS RELATED TO BALLOT ACCESS] Civil Rights Division 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530 800-253-3931
Public Integrity Section [COMPLAINTS RELATED TO BALLOT INTEGRITY] Criminal Division 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, D.C. 20530 202-514-1412
Office of Public Affairs [ALL MEDIA INQUIRIES] 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20530 202-514-2007
Background Information on the Justice Department’s Mission to Protect Voting Rights and Prevent Election Fraud
The Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative. In October 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft ordered the creation of a Department-wide Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative. The goals of this ongoing Initiative are to:
enhance the Department’s ability to deter discrimination and voter fraud; and
prosecute violators vigorously whenever and wherever these offenses occur.
Civil Rights and Criminal Division Leaders Heading Initiative. To protect the vote of Americans, resources from across the Department of Justice have been committed to this effort. Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division Bradley Schlozman and Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division Alice S. Fisher are leading this initiative.
Annual Voting Integrity Seminars. Each year since the start of the Initiative the Justice Department holds a training seminar in Washington, D.C., for District Election Officers of all 93 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices. These annual two-day seminars provide comprehensive training to federal prosecutors on the handling of election fraud and voting rights violations. This year’s conference was held on October 4-5.
Designating Federal Prosecutors to Address Voting Matters. The Attorney General directed all 93 U.S. Attorneys to designate a District Election Officer responsible for our efforts on Election Day. These officers are experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys with knowledge of the laws that address election fraud, as well as laws that:
prohibit racial discrimination and voter intimidation;
govern absentee voting for uniformed and overseas citizens, the elderly, and citizens with disabilities; and
protect the voting rights of minority language Americans.
District Election Officers. These officers are election experts in their districts, and implement the Department of Justice's response to election fraud and campaign financing crimes under the overall supervision of the Public Integrity Section pursuant to 9 U.S.A.M. 85.210.
State Coordination. Pursuant to the Initiative, District Election Officers meet before significant elections with state and local election and law enforcement officials to coordinate the handling of election matters and offer federal assistance in the investigation and prosecution of election-related crimes that may occur in their respective districts.