News and Press Releases

Protecting The Right To Vote And Prosecuting Ballot Fraud

October 27, 2010

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ 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, without incidence of discrimination, intimidation or fraud.

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 criminal law 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 and U.S. citizens living abroad; and require states to ensure that citizens can register at driver license offices, public assistance offices and other state agencies; 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. 2, 2010, the Civil Rights Division will implement a comprehensive program to help ensure ballot access that will include the following:

The Civil Rights Division will announce later this week which states will have federal personnel as election monitors and observers at polling places.

Civil Rights Division attorneys in both the Voting and Criminal Sections in Washington, D.C., will be ready to receive election-related complaints of potential violations relating to any of the statutes the Civil Rights Division enforces. Attorneys in the division will take appropriate action and will consult and coordinate with local U.S. Attorneys' Offices and with other entities within the Department of Justice concerning these complaints on and after Election Day, as appropriate.

Civil Rights Division staff will be available at special toll-free numbers to receive complaints related to ballot access (1-800-253-3931) (TTY line 1-877-267-8971). In addition, individuals can also report complaints, problems or concerns related to voting via the Internet. Forms may be submitted through a link on the department's Web page:

Criminal Division and the Department's 94 U.S. Attorneys' Offices:

The Department's Criminal Division oversees the enforcement of federal laws that criminalize voter fraud and protect 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, voter intimidation, alteration of votes and malfeasance by election officials, as well as federal civil law prohibiting voter intimidation that does not involve discrimination or intimidation on grounds of race or color.

The Department's Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative requires that each of the Department's U.S. Attorneys' Offices coordinate with state law enforcement and 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, which the Department conducted this year on Aug. 31 and Sept. 1. DEOs are responsible for overseeing potential election crime matters in their districts and coordinating with the department's election crime experts in Washington, D.C.

On Nov. 2, 2010, these offices will work together and with the FBI to ensure that complaints from the public involving possible voter fraud are handled appropriately and expeditiously. Locally:

  • In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on Nov. 2, 2010, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United Stated Attorney David J. Hickton stated that Assistant United States Attorney/ DEO A. Elliot McLean will be on duty in the Western District of Pennsylvania while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: 412-894-7401.
  • 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 FBI can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: 412-432-4000.

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