United States Attorney Christina E. Nolan announced today that Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) Michael Drescher and Barbara Masterson will lead the efforts of her Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 3, 2020, general election. AUSAs Drescher and Masterson have been appointed to serve as the District Election Officers (DEO) for the District of Vermont, and in that capacity are responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
United States Attorney Nolan stated, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud or intimidation. The Department of Justice will act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.” She added that her office has been working closely with the Vermont Secretary of State, Vermont’s Attorney General, the Vermont State Police and other state and local partners to ensure a quick and collaborative response in the event of election interference.
The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open through election day.
Federal law protects against such crimes as 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 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 law. Further, federal law protects the rights 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 illiteracy).
The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice. In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on November 3, 2020, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities. United States Attorney Nolan stated that AUSAs/DEOs Drescher and Masterson will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. They can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: (802) 651-8249.
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 (518) 465-7551 or email at Albany-CP@fbi.gov. On election day, members of the public wishing to report election-related concerns to the Secretary of State should call 1-800-438 VOTE (8683).
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/.
Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, please call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities. State, county and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places and will respond quickly to emergency situations.
United States Attorney Nolan added, “Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination, intimidation, or election fraud make that information available to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”
The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice. Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.