TDD (202) 514-1888
Fact Sheet: Protecting Voting Rights
and Prosecuting Voter Fraud
The Department of Justice plays a limited, but important, role with respect
to elections. The Justice Department’s Criminal and Civil Rights
Divisions enforce specific federal laws that help to ensure that all
voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and have them counted.
specifically, the Department is responsible for enforcing federal laws that
help prevent and punish fraud and other assaults on the integrity of the
process for federal elections; for ensuring compliance with the Voting
Act, including preventing discrimination and voter intimidation; and for
the voting rights of servicemembers and overseas citizens, as well as voters
“The right to vote, and to have that vote count, is absolutely central
to the existence of freedom,” said Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales.
the Supreme Court has characterized it, the right to vote is the
of every other right.’ The Department of Justice is committed to
both ballot access and ballot integrity and together these ensure that
reflect the will of the people, which is the foundation of our great
The Justice Department has led a major enforcement effort to assure
with the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws that protect American
this administration, the Voting Section has broken new ground, filing the
of all cases ever filed under the minority language provisions of the Voting
Rights Act, as well as the bulk of all cases ever filed under Section 208 of
the Act, which guarantees voters the right to obtain assistance in voting.
Civil Rights Division Election Day Program:
decades, the Justice Department has conducted an Election Day program to
protect the rights of eligible voters to cast their votes. On Election
Day, the Civil Rights Division will implement a comprehensive program to
ensure ballot access.
- Since the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Justice
has regularly sent federal observers and monitors around the country to
the rights of all voters, including minority voters and voters who need
at the polls. This year, the Civil Rights Division will coordinate the
deployment of hundreds of federal government employees in counties, cities
and towns across the country to ensure access to the polls as required by
our nation’s civil rights laws.
- On Nov. 7, 2006, the Department of Justice will send a record number of
federal personnel for a midterm election, including hundreds of Justice
employees, to over 65 cities or counties in approximately 20 states to
- In identifying locations where federal monitors may be needed, the Civil
Rights Division has sought out the views of many organizations, including
advocacy groups for minority voters and voters with disabilities, as well
as state and local officials.
- On Election Day, voters will be able to file complaints online on the
Section home page http://www.usdoj.gov/crt/voting/index.htm.
Rights Division personnel will be available at a specially staffed toll
number, 1-800-253-3931, to receive complaints, and on a dedicated TTY
1-888-305-3228, that will be operational beginning Nov. 1, 2006.
- The Civil Rights Division’s efforts to ensure voter access in accordance
with federal law included training a responsible official, the District
Officials (DEOs), in every U.S. Attorney’s Office across the country
on ballot access laws. The process began in 2002 through the Attorney
General’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative. The DEOs
receive annual training on these issues in Washington, D.C., and are
prepared to recognize and remediate federal ballot access issues that they
may receive on Election Day.
- The Civil Rights Division’s commitment to ensuring voter access has
resulted in an unprecedented scope of observer and monitor coverage during
the past six years. Moreover, a majority of all federal court orders
providing for federal observers were obtained or extended by this
- The Civil Rights Division enforces the Voting Rights Act; the National
Registration Act; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act;
and the Help America Vote Act. Among other things, these laws prohibit
discrimination or intimidation based on race or language; mandate the
of voter assistance; require minority language election materials in
jurisdictions; provide for accessible election machines for voters with
and absentee ballots for servicemembers and voters abroad; and require
to ensure that citizens can register at drivers license offices and other
state agencies and also ensure that their voter rolls are accurate.
The Attorney General’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity
The Attorney General’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative
was created in October 2002 to increase the Department’s ability to deter
election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and to prosecute these
offenses – to
make voting easier and cheating harder. It is imperative that in pursuing
voting integrity, ballot access is not in any way diminished or harmed.
- On Election Day, the Public Integrity Section of the Justice
Criminal Division will have federal prosecutors readily available to
complaints and take any appropriate action. When the polls open, the
Department of Justice – both in Washington, D.C. and in the states – will
be available to handle complaints and open investigations.
- District Election Officers have been designated and will be available in
each U.S. Attorneys’ district to receive and handle any complaints
from the public.
- The Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section has assigned attorneys
to assist with potential election crimes. Lawyers with the section will
be on duty from the time the polls open on the east coast until the time
close on the west coast to provide consultation and coordination with the
- The Justice Department enforces laws that prohibit voter intimidation,
by ineligible individuals, bribery, destruction of valid ballots or
counting more votes than there are registered voters, altering vote
voting in multiple counties, abuse of absentee ballots, malfeasance by
officials, the disappearance of ballot boxes, furnishing fraudulent voter
registration forms to election registrars, and forging the names of voters
on absentee ballot materials.
- Since the Attorney General’s Ballot Access and Voting Integrity
was launched in 2002, more than 120 individuals have been charged with
fraud offenses. Eighty-six people have been convicted of voter fraud
in that time frame.
- Nearly 300 election fraud investigations have been started since the
began in 2002. There are now approximately 200 investigations ongoing
throughout the country.