News and Press Releases

U.S. Attorney Names District Election Officer, Announces Hotline for Election Complaints

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 1, 2012

PITTSBURGH - United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today that Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Shaun E. Sweeney will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2012, general elections. AUSA Sweeney, Chief of the Civil Rights and Exploitation Section, has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and in that capacity 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.

United States Attorney Hickton said, "Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have their vote counted. 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 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 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 election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on election day.

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

"The franchise 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. In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on November 6, 2012, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities," United States Attorney Hickton said. He also stated that AUSA/DEO Sweeney and a team of lawyers will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. They can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: (412) 894-7516.

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 (412) 432-4000.

Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767 or at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.

United States Attorney Hickton said, "Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. 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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