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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Utah

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, November 3, 2014

Acting U. S. Attorney Appoints Election Day Officer for Utah; Part of Department of Justice Efforts to Protect Voting Rights

            SALT LAKE CITY - Acting United States Attorney Carlie Christensen announced Monday that Assistant U.S. Attorney Alicia Cook will lead the efforts of her office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day program for the Nov. 4, 2014, general election. AUSA Cook has been appointed to serve as Election Officer for the District of Utah. In that capacity, she will be responsible for overseeing complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

            "Although Utah has a history of conducting problem-free elections, we want to make sure residents of Utah know that reports of fraud or abuse will be taken seriously," Ms. Christensen said today. “Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government. It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, or the Department of Justice.”

            Ms. Cook will be available Tuesday to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses and to ensure that any complaints are directed to the right place. She can be reached by the public at 801-325-3350 while the polls are open.

            In addition, the FBI in Salt Lake City will have special agents available throughout the day to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The FBI can be reached at 801-579-1400.

            Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C., at 1-800-253-3931 (toll free) or 202-307-2767. The Civil Rights Division staff can also be reached by TTY at 202-305-0082. In addition, individuals may also report complaints, problems, or concerns related to voting by fax to 202-307-3961, by email to voting.section@usdoj.gov, and, by complaint forms that may be submitted through a link on the Department’s website, at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.

            The administration of the election process is primarily a state rather than a federal function. States have the power to establish the place, time, and manner for holding elections. The Department of Justice, however, plays an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls. The Justice Department's Criminal and Civil Rights Divisions enforce specific federal laws that help to ensure that all qualified voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots and have them counted.

            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 laws. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

            Mistakes by election administrators, violations of state laws governing how elections are to be conducted, the accuracy of campaign literature, campaigning too closely to voting locations, the process by which candidates qualify for ballot status and events that occur in the course of political campaigns generally are not appropriate for federal prosecution, although such matters may violate state election laws.

            Voters with questions about where to vote should call their county clerk’s office.

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Updated March 13, 2015