SHREVEPORT / LAFAYETTE, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley advises the public today of the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s role during the upcoming November 8, 2016 general elections and the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program.
“Early voting begins on Tuesday, October 25th in Louisiana, and I want to provide the public with information regarding the enforcement of laws related to voting,” Finley stated. “Our staff will be available to assist in pursuing complaints of voting fraud and intimidation throughout the election cycle. Free and open elections are an essential part of our democracy, and we want to ensure that everyone’s rights are protected.”
State and local governments have primary responsibility for administering elections. The Justice Department is charged with and committed to protecting the rights of all citizens to access the ballot on Election Day, preventing and prosecuting voter fraud and discrimination at the polls, 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 on 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 right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.
Early voting starts October 25th and continues to November 1st (except Sunday) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the November 8th general election, and November 26th to December 3rd (except Sunday) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the December 10th runoff election.
Residents should contact their local Registrar of Voters’ Office to determine their voting location. Voters can download a sample ballot or obtain other election information by visiting the Louisiana Secretary of State’s web page online at www.sos.la.gov/ElectionsAndVoting. To find out more, call the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office at 225-922-0900.
For those seeking to register to vote, registration is open throughout the year. Registration to be eligible to vote in the November 8th election has ended, but registration is open for subsequent elections throughout the year. In Louisiana, eligibility to register to vote in an election ends 30 days before that election. To find out more, call the Louisiana Secretary of State’s Office at 225-922-0900.
Complaints of election fraud or voting rights violations should be directed to the FBI, who will have special agents available in each field office and resident agencies throughout the country to receive allegations. The local FBI field offices can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: Shreveport at 318-861-1890, Lafayette at 337-233-2164, Monroe at 318- 387-0773, Alexandria at 318-443-5097 and Lake Charles at 337-433-6353. The U.S. Attorney’s Office can be reached by the public at 318-676-3600 (Shreveport) or 337-262-6618 (Lafayette).
Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C., at 800-253-3931, 202-307-2767 or by fax at (202) 307-3961. The division’s email address is email@example.com, and voter complaints can also be filed online at www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake.
The Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section enforces six federal statutes. They are the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Voting Accessibility for the Elderly and Handicapped Act of 1984, the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986, the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. For more information on the acts that the division enforces, visit www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/overview.php.