WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice announced today that it is holding its fifth annual Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Symposium in Washington, D.C. on July 25 and 26, 2006. These annual training conferences are an important component of the Department’s ongoing Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative, which was established in Oct. 2002 to spearhead the Department’s expanded efforts to address election crimes and voting rights violations.
The Initiative is supervised by the Assistant Attorneys General of the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions, and has two overarching goals: To ensure voting access to all who qualify and to protect the integrity of the election process and the worth of each person’s vote. The Initiative seeks to achieve these goals by increasing the Department’s efforts and effectiveness in combating election crimes, publicizing election crime convictions to deter similar crimes in the future, ensuring nationwide compliance with the federal laws protecting voting rights, and assuring the public that the Department intends to combat both election crimes and voting rights abuses vigorously, fairly and effectively.
“Although our efforts have two principal aims – the prosecution of election crimes and the protection of voting rights – these two aims are complementary: Without one, the other is meaningless. Regardless of whether a voter’s ballot is diluted by fraud or an eligible voter is denied the opportunity to cast a ballot, the end result is the same: an election that does not reflect the will of the people,” said Alice S. Fisher, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.
“This Attorney General’s Initiative has resulted in different offices at the Department of Justice working together and achieving record results,” said Wan J. Kim, Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights. “These investigations and prosecutions, both vindicating the rights of voters, and the integrity of the ballot, promote the confidence of average voters in our country’s democratic system.”
As a result of the Initiative, nationwide enforcement of election crimes has increased dramatically. At present, 195 investigations are pending throughout the country. Moreover, since the start of the Initiative in 2002 over 300 investigations of possible election crime have been opened, and over 125 election crime matters have been closed after investigation; 119 individuals have been charged with ballot fraud offenses and 86 individuals have been convicted of these crimes; and 48 individuals have been charged with campaign financing fraud and 42 individuals have been convicted of these offenses.
The Department’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative is a balanced effort that is designed to make voting easier and cheating more costly. Through vigorous enforcement of the voting rights and election crime statutes, the Department will continue to enforce federal voting rights and criminal laws in a way that ensures that the right to vote is protected, and that those who seek to dilute the worth of honest votes through corruption know that the Department will use all available resources to bring them to justice.