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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Pennsylvania

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 27, 2016

U.S. Attorney Hickton Appoints District Election Officer to Oversee Complaints Relating to November 2016 Elections

PITTSBURGH - United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today that Assistant United States Attorney Shanicka L. Kennedy has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Western District of Pennsylvania. In that capacity AUSA Kennedy is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of voting rights abuses and election fraud in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

United States Attorney Hickton said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring misconduct 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 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.

In order to respond to complaints of voting rights abuses on November 8, 2016, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United States Attorney David Hickton stated that AUSA/DEO Shanicka Kennedywill be on duty in Western Pennsylvania while the polls are open. She can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: (412) 894-7516.

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election misconduct on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at (412) 432-4000.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to voting.section@usdoj.gov or by complaint form at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.

United States Attorney Hickton said, “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 interference with the vitally important right to vote make that information available immediately to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”

Updated October 27, 2016