Federal prosecutors stand ready to address voting rights violations or election fraud
HOUSTON – Two Assistant U.S. Attorneys will lead the efforts of this office in connection with the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) nationwide Election Day Program for the Nov. 7 election, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani.
Civil Chief Daniel Hu has been appointed to serve as the election officer for civil matters, while Deputy Criminal Chief Sharad Khandelwal will act as the criminal election officer. In their capacities, both are responsible for overseeing the Southern District of Texas’s handling of election day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff and election fraud in consultation with DOJ headquarters in Washington.
DOJ has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers as well as election fraud. DOJ will address these violations wherever they occur. DOJ’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 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 franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. In order to respond to complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the upcoming election and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Khandelwal and Hu will be on duty in this district while the polls are open and can be reached at 713-567-9345 and 713-567-9518, respectively.
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 main number in Houston is 713-693-5000, while South Texas residents can contact the San Antonio office at 210-225-6741.
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. by phone at 800-253-3931.
Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance of the American electorate. Those who have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud should make that information available to DOJ.
Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, 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.