United States Attorney William M. McSwain Announces Preparations to Preserve the Integrity of the 2020 General Election in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Assistant United States Attorney Richard P. Barrett will lead the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the general election on November 3, 2020. AUSA Barrett has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and any other voting rights concerns 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 through Election Day.
Federal law protects against such crimes as 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 direction. Further, federal law 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 illiteracy).
“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 it is imperative that anyone with specific information about voter interference or election fraud report it immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”
Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy. The federal government 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. U.S. Attorney McSwain stated that AUSA Barrett will be on duty in this District while the polls are open in order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on November 3, 2020, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities. AUSA Barrett can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: (215) 861-8420 and (215) 861-8200.
In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office 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 (215) 418-4000.
Finally, complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.
Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence, please 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.