U.S. Attorney Ripley Rand announced this week that Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Robert M. Hamilton will lead the efforts of his office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming general election in November. AUSA Hamilton has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Middle District of North Carolina, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
Rand said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without fear of interference or discrimination. Each vote must be counted fairly. The integrity of the election process is of paramount importance, and requires that we act promptly and aggressively to address allegations of election fraud, discrimination, or interference of any kind.
“The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud 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 election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open during the early voting period and on Election Day,” he said.
Federal law protects against crimes such as intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, 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. Federal law also protects the right of voters to mark their own ballots or to be assisted in voting by a person of their choice.
“Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy. Law enforcement, elections officials, and the public must all work together to ensure that those who are entitled to vote exercise that right if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt the electoral process are brought to justice,” Rand said.
To ensure that complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses during the early voting period and on Election Day are addressed and directed to the appropriate authorities, Rand stated that AUSA Hamilton will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: 336- 333-5351.
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 while polls are open. The local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 336- 855-7770. Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at 800-253-3931 or 202- 307-2767.
“Public involvement is essential to ensuring that elections are both free and fair,” said Rand. “If you have specific information about election fraud, discrimination, or interference with voting, we encourage you to make that information known immediately to our Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”