News and Press Releases

u.S. attorney announces voting enforcement effort

November 1, 2012


NEWARK, N.J. – U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman for the District of New Jersey announced today that Assistant U.S. Attorneys Karen H. Shelton and Allan B.K. Urgent will coordinate efforts in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming Nov. 6, 2012, general elections.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Shelton, as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the District of New Jersey is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in insuring the integrity of elections and combating violations wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible violations while the polls are open.

Federal law protects against such crimes as 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. It also contains special protections for the rights of voters and provides that they can vote free from acts that intimidate or harass them. 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 may violate federal voting rights law. Federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

“Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Shelton and Urgent will be on duty while the polls are open in New Jersey. They may be reached by the public at the following toll-free telephone number: 855-291-6791.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 973-792-3000.

Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.

“Free and fair elections depend on the cooperation of the American electorate,” U.S. Attorney Fishman said. “It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately to my office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”


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