U.S. Attorney Avery Announces 2022 Election Day Program
U.S. Attorney Vanessa Roberts Avery today announced that Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Francis will lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s efforts in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 8, 2022, general election. AUSA Francis serves as the District Election Officer for the District of Connecticut and is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of Election Day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff, and election fraud, 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 in a fair and free election,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “Similarly, election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers, and election fraud. The Department will address these violations wherever they occur. The Department’s longstanding Election Day Program furthers these goals and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the electoral process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible federal election law violations.
Federal law protects against such crimes as threatening violence against election officials or staff, intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, 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 interference, including intimidation, and other acts designed to prevent or discourage people from voting or voting for the candidate of their choice. The Voting Rights Act protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice (where voters need assistance because of disability or inability to read or write in English).
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of American democracy,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “We all must ensure that those who are entitled to vote can exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice.”
U.S. Attorney Avery noted that in order to respond to complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the election, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, AUSA Francis will be on duty while the polls are open and will be in regular communication throughout the day with the FBI and with state election and law enforcement authorities.
The Connecticut State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) is staffing a hotline during polling hours on Election Day. Anyone with knowledge of election fraud or voting rights abuses is encouraged to call 1-866-733-2463 (1-866-SEEC-INFO) to report suspected violations. The SEEC staff will answer questions, advise on complaint procedures and, if appropriate, request the assistance of state criminal or federal law enforcement authorities in the investigation and possible prosecution of the matter.
The FBI in Connecticut and across the country will have special agents available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office in New Haven can be reached directly at 203-777-6311.
In addition, complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance of the American electorate,” said U.S. Attorney Avery. “It is important that those who have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud make that information available to the Department of Justice.”
U.S. Attorney Avery stressed that in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, individuals should call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.