Courtesy Photo, King County Elections

Courtesy Photo, King County Elections

Federal plan to handle complaints about voter intimidation or fraud

Assistant U.S. attorney, FBI to respond to Western District of Washington incidents

U.S. Attorney Nick Brown announced that Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Wilkinson will lead the efforts for the Western District of Washington in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election.

Wilkinson has been appointed to serve as the district election officer and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of election day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff, and election fraud, in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C., according to a Oct. 28 U.S. Department of Justice news release.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election,” Brown said. “Similarly, election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combating discrimination and intimidation, threats of violence directed at election officials and workers, and election fraud, according to the news release. The Department will address these violations wherever they occur. The Department’s longstanding Election Day Program furthers these goals and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the electoral process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible federal election law violations.

Federal law protects against such crimes as threatening violence against election officials or staff, 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 interference, including intimidation, and other acts designed to prevent or discourage people from voting or voting for the candidate of their choice. The Voting Rights Act 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 inability to read or write in English).

Brown said that in order to respond to complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the upcoming election, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Wilkinson will be on duty throughout the voting period. He can be reached by the public at 206-553-7970.

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 local Seattle FBI field office can be reached by the public at 206-622-0460.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at civilrights.justice.gov.

“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance of the American electorate,” Brown said. “It is important that those who have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud make that information available to the Department of Justice.”

Call 911

Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities, according to the Department of Justice. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over ballot drop boxes, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.


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