3 November 2008
Department of Justice
Friday, October 31,
TDD (202) 514-1888
Fact Sheet: Protecting Voting Rights and Prosecuting Voter Fraud
- Among the Department of Justices highest priorities are protecting
voting rights and combating voter fraud. The
Departments Civil Rights Division enforces specific federal laws that
help to ensure all qualified voters have an opportunity to cast their ballots
and have them counted, while the Departments Criminal Division oversees
the nationwide enforcement of federal laws that criminalize voter fraud and
other assaults on the integrity of the federal election process.
Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative:
2002, the Department of Justice established the Ballot Access and Voting
Integrity Initiative to spearhead the Departments efforts to protect
voting rights and to deter and prosecute election fraud.
The ongoing initiative is supervised by the Assistant Attorneys
General of the Civil Rights and Criminal Divisions, and has two overarching
goals: to ensure voting access to all who qualify, and to protect the integrity
of the election process and the value of every vote.
initiative requires that each of the Departments U.S. Attorneys
Offices coordinate with state law enforcement and election officials before
the federal general elections regarding the handling of election-related
matters in their respective districts. In addition,
the initiative provides annual training for the Assistant U.S. Attorneys
from the Departments 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices serving as District
Election Officers (DEOs) in their respective districts. DEOs are election
experts in the federal laws addressing election crimes and voting rights.
July 2008, the Department held its seventh Ballot Access and Voting Integrity
Symposium at the National Advocacy Center in Columbia, S.C.
This additional training has strengthened the nationwide expertise
related to enforcement of voting rights and prosecution of election crimes.
4, 2008, under the programs implemented by the Civil Rights and Criminal
Divisions, the Department will be working hard to ensure fair access for
the nations voters and to uphold the integrity of the nations
democratic electoral process.
Civil Rights Division enforces the civil provisions of the Voting Rights
Act of 1965; the Uniformed and Overseas Citizen Absentee Voting Act of 1986
(UOCAVA); the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (Motor Voter or NVRA);
and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA).
Among other things, these civil statutes prohibit discrimination in
voting on the basis of race or membership in a language minority as well
as intimidation, coercion or threats against persons for exercising their
right to vote. The Civil Rights Divisions
Criminal Section also enforces federal criminal statutes that prohibit voter
intimidation based on race, color, national origin or religion.
On Election Day, Nov. 4, 2008, the Civil Rights Division will
implement a comprehensive program to help ensure ballot access that will
include the following:
The Civil Rights Division will send more than 800 federal
personnel, including Department employees, as election monitors and observers
at polling places in 23 states across the nation.
In identifying locations where federal monitors may be needed,
the Civil Rights Division has already sought out the views of many organizations,
including non-governmental organizations as well as state and local officials.
The Civil Rights Division has been engaged in a major outreach
effort to non-governmental organizations and election officials to inform
jurisdictions of their obligations under the language minority provisions
of the Voting Rights Act. The Division will continue to enforce the law that
requires jurisdictions meeting certain criteria to provide bilingual access
Civil Rights Division attorneys in both the Voting and Criminal
Sections in Washington, D.C., will be ready to receive complaints and concerns
of voter intimidation or coercion, or complaints of potential violations
relating to any of the statutes the Civil Rights Division enforces.
Attorneys in the division will take appropriate
action and will consult and coordinate with local U.S. Attorneys Offices
and with other entities within the Department of Justice concerning these
complaints on and after Election Day.
Civil Rights Division staff will be available at special toll-free
numbers to receive complaints related to free and fair ballot access
(1-800-253-3931), (TTY line 1-888-305-3228), including allegations of voter
intimidation or coercion targeted at voters because of their race, color,
national origin or religion. In addition,
individuals can also report complaints, problems or concerns related to voting
via the Internet. Forms may be submitted through
a link on the Departments Web page:
Division and the Department's 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices:
The Criminal Divisions Public Integrity Section and
the Departments 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices are responsible for
enforcing the federal criminal laws that prohibit various forms of election
fraud, such as vote buying, multiple voting, voting by ineligible individuals,
submission of fraudulent ballots or registrations, destruction of ballots
or registrations, voter intimidation, alteration of votes and malfeasance
by election officials. On Nov. 4, 2008, these
offices will work together and with the FBI to ensure that complaints from
the public involving possible voter fraud are handled appropriately and
Senior federal prosecutors within the Criminal Divisions
Public Integrity Section in Washington, D.C., will be on duty while polls
are open to receive complaints and take appropriate action, and to provide
consultation and coordination with the U.S. Attorneys Offices and FBI
regarding the handling of election crime allegations.
Federal prosecutors serving as DEOs will be available in
each of the 94 U.S. Attorneys Offices to receive and handle complaints
from the public involving possible election fraud.
FBI officials will be available at FBI headquarters in Washington
to receive complaints and to coordinate their handling with FBI field offices
and the Criminal Division.
FBI special agents serving as Election Crime Coordinators
in the FBIs 56 field offices will be available to receive complaints
from the public and to handle these matters in consultation with FBI
Voter fraud complaints may be directed to any of the local
U.S. Attorneys Offices, the local FBI offices or the Public Integrity
Department remains committed to vigorous enforcement of the federal laws
passed by Congress that protect the right to vote, the worth of votes honestly
cast, and the integrity of this countrys elections.