United States Attorneys Mike Hurst of the Southern District of Mississippi and William C. Lamar of the Northern District of Mississippi announced today that they have appointed District Election Officers (“DEO”) in their respective Districts to be responsible for overseeing the handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in Mississippi in consultation with U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.
Assistant United States Attorney Chris Wansley in the Southern District of Mississippi and Assistant United States Attorney Robert Coleman in the Northern District of Mississippi will lead the efforts of the United States Attorneys’ Offices in Mississippi in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2018, general election.
“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and ensuring free and fair elections is one of the most important responsibilities we have as U.S. Attorneys. If anyone has specific information about election fraud or discrimination, please contact our offices, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division. We stand ready to act promptly and aggressively to protect voter rights and the integrity of the election process,” said U.S. Attorney Hurst.
U.S. Attorney Lamar said, “The fairness of the election process hinges on our citizens’ ability to fully and fairly exercise their constitutional right to vote without fear, resistance or undue outside influence. We will work diligently to insure that the right of our citizens to vote and to participate in the electoral process will not be impeded.”
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, 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 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 (where voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy).
In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on November 6, 2018, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, AUSA/DEO Chris Wansley and AUSA/DEO Robert Coleman will be on duty in their respective Districts while the polls are open. Wansley can be reached at 601-973-2883 and Coleman can be contacted at 662-238-7676.
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. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 601-948-5000.
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by complaint form at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.