United States Attorney's Office Implements Election Day Program to Stop Fraud and Protect Voting Rights
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – United States Attorney Will Thompson announced today that Assistant United States Attorney Erik S. Goes will lead the efforts of his office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 8, 2022, general election. AUSA Goes has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Southern District of West Virginia, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of election day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff, and election fraud, in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election,” Thompson said. “Similarly, election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers, and election fraud. The Department will address these violations wherever they occur. The Department’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 within the Department 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,” Thompson said. “We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise can exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice. 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, AUSA Goes will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at (304) 340-2395 or (304) 345-2200.”
The Southern District of West Virginia also has an online option for reporting complaints: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdwv/report-corruption. The West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office through its Election Division offers a form for filing elections complaints as well: https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx.
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 (304) 346-2300.
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can 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.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance of the American electorate,” Thompson said. “It is important that those who have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud make that information available to the Department of Justice.”
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.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.