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Justice News

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

Thursday, October 27, 2016

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 the upcoming general elections, United States Attorney John W. Huber announced today that Assistant U.S. Attorney Lake Dishman will lead the efforts of his office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day program for the Nov. 8, 2016, general election. Dishman has been appointed to serve as Election Officer for the District of Utah.  In that capacity, he will be responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of 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," 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 the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, or the Department of Justice.”

Dishman will be available Nov. 8 to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses and to ensure that any complaints are directed to the right place. Dishman can be reached by the public at 801-325-1409 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 or 202-307-2767. Complaints related to violence, threats of violence, or intimidation at a polling place should be immediately reported to local authorities by calling 911. They should also be reported to federal authorities.

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.

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

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 27, 2016