United States Attorney William M. McSwain Announces his Office’s Efforts to Preserve Integrity of Today’s Primary Elections in Eastern District of Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Assistant United States Attorney Richard P. Barrett has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania for today’s primary elections as part of the Department of Justice’s nationwide Election Day Program. In that capacity, AUSA Barrett 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.
The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring ballot 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 ballot fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open.
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 direction. 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.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being impacted by fraud,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process, but we need anyone with specific information about voter interference or election fraud to report it immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”
In order to respond to complaints of ballot fraud or voting rights abuses today, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, AUSA Barrett will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: 215-861-8420. In addition, the FBI will have special agents available to receive allegations of ballot fraud and other election abuses today. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 215-418-4000.
Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.