News and Press Releases

United States Attorney’s Office Names Officers to Oversee Federal Election Complaints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 23, 2012

     The United States Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that three senior Assistant United States Attorneys will lead the Office’s efforts in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2012 general elections.

     Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Pfisterer, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division, has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) and to cover the Harrisburg office; Assistant U.S. Attorney William Houser has been appointed to serve as the Assistant District Election Officer (ADEO) for the Scranton office, and Assistant U.S. Attorney George Rocktashel has been appointed to serve as the Assistant District Election (ADEO) for the Williamsport office. These three career prosecutors will be responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

     United States Attorney Peter J. Smith said: “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process and no vote should be lost, omitted or stolen through fraud. The Department has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact in each federal judicial district for the public and state and local government officials to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations.”

     The U.S. Attorney’s Office also released a letter sent yesterday to the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s Office and the Pennsylvania Department of State concerning the federal role in protection of the franchise and providing contact information regarding the federal district election officers.

     The letter states that 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 laws. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

     The letter provides the names and contact information for state election officials and the public to report complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses related to the November 6, 2012 election. United States Attorney Smith stated that his offices’ election officers will be on duty in the District while the polls are open.

     In addition, the letter states that the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day. Local FBI field offices for the Middle District of Pennsylvania can be reached by the public at Harrisburg 717-232-8686, Scranton 570-344-2404, Williamsport 570-323-3791, State College 814-234-0341, and Allentown 610-433-6488.

     A listing of the contact information is provided at the end of this press release.

     Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767.

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