In anticipation of the upcoming election, the Justice Department today provided information about its efforts, through the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions, to ensure that all qualified voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process .
Civil Rights Division:
The Civil Rights Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with the civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote, and with federal criminal laws prohibiting discriminatory interference with that right.
The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces civil provisions of federal laws that protect the right to vote including: the Voting Rights Act; the National Voter Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act; and the Help America Vote Act. Among other things, these laws prohibit discrimination based on race or membership in a minority language group; prohibit intimidation of voters; provide that voters who need assistance in voting because of disability or illiteracy can obtain assistance from a person of their choice; require minority language election materials and assistance in certain jurisdictions; provide for accessible election machines for voters with disabilities; require provisional ballots for voters who assert they are eligible but whose names do not appear on poll books; provide for absentee ballots for service members, their family members and U.S. citizens living abroad; and require states to ensure that citizens can register at drivers’ license offices, public assistance offices , other state agencies and through the mail; and include requirements regarding maintaining voter registration lists.
The Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.
As it has in the past, on Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, the Civil Rights Division will implement a comprehensive program to help ensure ballot access that will include the following:
Civil Rights Division staff will be available by phone to receive complaints related to ballot access (1-800-253-3931 toll free or 202-307-2767) or by TTY (1-877-267-8971). In addition, individuals may also report complaints, problems, or concerns related to voting by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to email@example.com and, closer to Election Day, by complaint forms that may be submitted through a link on the department’s website, at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/ .
Complaints related to violence or threats of violence at a polling place should, in the first instance, always be reported to local police authorities by calling 911.
Criminal Division and the Department’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices:
The Department’s Criminal Division oversees the enforcement of federal laws that criminalize certain election fraud and vindicate the integrity of the federal election process.
The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and the Department’s 94 U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are responsible for enforcing the federal criminal laws that prohibit various forms of election fraud, such as vote buying, multiple voting, submission of fraudulent ballots or registrations, destruction of ballots or registrations, alteration of votes and malfeasance by election officials . The Criminal Division is also responsible for enforcing federal criminal law prohibiting voter intimidation that does not involve a basis in race , color , national origin or religion (as noted above, voter intimidation that has a basis in race, color, national origin or religion is addressed by the Civil Rights Division).
The department encourages each U.S. Attorney’s Office to communicate with state election officials before the federal general elections regarding the handling of election-related matters in their respective districts. In addition, the department provides annual training for the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who serve as district election officers (DEOs) in their respective districts. DEOs are responsible for overseeing potential election-crime matters in their districts , and for coordinating with the department’s election-crime experts in Washington, D.C.
On Nov. 6, 2012, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will work with specially trained Federal Bureau of Investigation personnel in each district to ensure that complaints from the public involving possible voter fraud are handled appropriately . Specifically:
Both protecting the right to vote and combating election fraud are essential to maintaining the confidence of all Americans in our democratic system of government. We encourage anyone who has information suggesting voting discrimination or ballot fraud to contact the appropriate authorities.