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Justice News

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

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

U. S. Attorney Appoints Election Day Officer, Utah Joins Justice Department Efforts To Protect Right To Vote And Prosecute Ballot Fraud

SALT LAKE CITY – In anticipation of Tuesday’s general elections, United States Attorney John W. Huber announced today that Assistant U.S. Attorney Lake Dishman will serve as the election day officer for the District of Utah.  He will coordinate with election officials at the Department of Justice to ensure that all qualified voters in Utah have the opportunity to cast their ballots and have their votes counted free of discrimination, intimidation or fraud in the election process.

"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," Huber 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 my office or the FBI,” Huber said.

“Voting rights are constitutional rights, and they’re part of what it means to be an American,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “The Department of Justice has been entrusted with an indispensable role in securing these rights for the people of this nation.  This year we are using every lawful tool that we have, both civil and criminal, to protect the rights of millions of Americans to cast their vote unimpeded at one of more than 170,000 precincts across America.  Citizens of America control this country through their selection of their governmental officials at the ballot box. Likewise, fraud in the voting process will not be tolerated. Fraud also corrupts the integrity of the ballot.”

Election-crime complaints related to election fraud or voting rights abuses in Utah should be referred to Dishman. He can be reached at 801-325-1409 while the polls are open and until one hour after the polls close. He can also be contacted in the days following the election.

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. The FBI can be reached at 801-579-1400.    

Complaints related to violence, threats of violence, or intimidation at a polling place should always be reported immediately to local law enforcement authorities. They should also be reported to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI after local authorities are contacted.

The Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division is responsible for ensuring compliance with the civil provisions of federal statutes that protect the right to vote, and with the criminal provisions of federal statutes prohibiting discriminatory interference with that right.

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 Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Civil Rights Acts.  Among other things, 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 such that members of racial or language  minority groups have less opportunity than other citizens to participate in the political process;
• prohibit intimidation of voters;
• provide that voters who need assistance in voting because of disability or illiteracy can obtain  assistance from a person of their choice (other than agents of their employer or union);
• provide for accessible voting machines for voters with disabilities;
• provide for provisional ballots for voters who assert they are registered and eligible but whose  names do not appear on poll books;
• provide for absentee registration and ballots for uniformed service members, their family members  and U.S. citizens living abroad;
• provide that citizens can register to vote through drivers’ license, public assistance or disability  services offices, and through the mail; and
• include requirements regarding maintaining voter registration lists.

The Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter intimidation and voter suppression based on race, color, national origin or religion.

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. 
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.

Anyone with questions about local voting procedures should call their county clerk’s office.


Civil Rights
Updated October 31, 2018