U.S. Attorney for Idaho Names Election Day Contacts
BOISE – United States Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today that Assistants United States Attorney (AUSAs) Jack Haycock, Ray Patricco and Nancy Cook will lead the efforts of her Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 8, 2016, general elections. AUSAs Haycock, Patricco and Cook have been appointed to serve as District Election Officers for the District of Idaho, and in that capacity are 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 Olson said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that 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,” said Olson. “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 8, 2016, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United States Attorney Olson stated that AUSAs Haycock, Patricco and Cook will be on duty while the polls are open. They can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers:
(208) 251-0589 in Pocatello for AUSA Haycock; (208) 334-9118 in Boise for AUSA Patricco or (208) 676-7346 in Coeur d’Alene for AUSA Cook. In addition, complaints related to violence, threats of violence or intimidating at a polling place should be reported first to local police authorities by calling 911.
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. Boise FBI Supervisory Agent Douglas Hart can be reached by the public at (208) 344-7843 and Coeur d’Alene FBI Supervisory Agent Richard Collodi can be reached by the public at (208) 664-5128.
Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made to AUSA Jessica Gunder at 208-488-2346 or directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767.
The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces the civil provisions of a wide range of federal statutes that protect the right to vote including: the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the Help America Vote Act and the Civil Rights Acts. Among other things, collectively, these laws:
- prohibit election practices that have either a discriminatory purpose, based on race or membership in a minority language group, or a discriminatory result, with members of racial or language minority groups having less opportunity than other citizens to participate in the political process;
- prohibit voter intimidation;
- provide that individuals who need assistance in voting because of disability or illiteracy can obtain assistance from a person of their choice;
- provide for accessible election machines for voters with disabilities;
- require provisional ballots for voters who assert they are eligible but whose names do not appear on poll books;
- provide for absentee ballots for service members, their family members and U.S. citizens living abroad;
- require states to ensure that citizens can register through drivers’ license offices, public assistance and disability services offices, other state agencies and through the mail; and
- include requirements regarding maintaining voter registration lists.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate,” said Olson. “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.”