FBI, other agencies involved as election approaches
U.S. Attorney for Delaware David C. Weiss announced that Assistant U.S. Attorney (“AUSA”) Shamoor Anis will lead his office’s efforts in connection with the U.S. Department of Justice’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 3 general election.
Anis has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (“DEO”) for the District of Delaware, responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of any voting rights concerns and election fraud complaints in consultation with the Department of Justice headquarters in Washington.
There have been fears that voter intimidation might take. place in the heated election battle between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump has made allegations of voter fraud, especially in regard to mail-in ballots.
U.S. Attorney Weiss stated, “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 or election fraud make that information available to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”
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.
Weiss took note of 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. Federal law also protects the right 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).
Attorney Weiss further stated: “The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to vote exercise that franchise 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, AUSA/DEO Anis will be on duty in this district while the polls are open. AUSA Anis can be reached by the public at (302) 573-6277.”
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 Wilmington FBI can be reached by the public at (302) 658-4391.
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/.
In the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted. The Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process,” Weiss stated.