2012-10-25 / News

State, federal officials will be on lookout Election Day

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha recently announced that his offi ce and the local office of the FBI will lead efforts in Rhode Island in connection with the federal Department Justice’s nationwide program against voter fraud for the upcoming general election on Nov. 6

Assistant U.S. Attorney Terrence Donnelly has been appointed to serve as the district election officer in Rhode Island, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the handling of complaints of election fraud and abuses of voting rights.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination, and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” said Neronha. “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, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur. The department’s long-standing program furthers these goals. It 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 while the polls are open.

Federal law protects against such crimes 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 people designed to interrupt or intimidate voters at polling places by questioning or challenging them, or by photographing or videotaping them, may violate federal law. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

To report suspected election fraud, contact Donnelly at 709- 5068. Also, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office throughout the country to receive allegations of fraud and other abuses on Election Day. The local FBI field office in Rhode Island can be reached at 272-8310. Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the voting section of the civil rights division at 800- 253-3931.

“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate,” said Neronha. “It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately.”

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