EAST ST. LOUIS — The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois will oversee the Justice Department’s anti-fraud efforts in the Nov. 4 election.
In a press release Tuesday, Oct. 21, U.S. Attorney Stephen R. Wigginton said an assistant U.S. attorney is designated as the district election officer for the Southern District of Illinois, and will be responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with the Justice Department.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” Wigginton said. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The Justice Department has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls. The department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals and seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact 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.
“The franchise of voting is the cornerstone of American democracy,” Wigginton said. “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 abuses and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Wigginton will have Assistant U.S. Attorney and District Election Officer Norman R. Smith on duty while the polls are open. Smith may be reached at (618) 628-3700, (618) 628-3743 or (618) 799-8775.
The FBI will have special agents available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office can be reached at (618) 397-4401.
Complaints about possible violations of federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington by phone at (800) 253-3931 or (202) 307-2767, by fax at (202) 307-3961, by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by complaint form at: http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate,” Wigginton said. “It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division. In so doing, all of our citizens may enjoy the benefits of our free and fair election system.”