Protecting the Right to Vote and Prosecuting Ballot Fraud

BEAUMONT, October 24, 2012 – U.S. Attorney John M. Bales announced today that Assistant U.S. Attorneys in the Eastern District of Texas have been appointed as District Election Officers (DEOs) for the upcoming Nov. 6, 2012 general election and early voting. The DEOs will be responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
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 on election day and during early voting.

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 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. Further, federal law protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice.

The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it 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 abuses on Nov. 6, 2012 and during early voting, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, U.S. Attorney Bales stated that Assistant U.S. Attorneys/ District Election Officers Michelle Englade, Tom Gibson, Jim Noble, and M. Andrew Stover will be on duty in the Eastern District of Texas while the polls are open. AUSA Englade can be reached by the public in Beaumont at 409-839-2538, AUSAs Gibson and Noble can be reached in Tyler, Texas at 903-590-1400, and AUSA Stover can be reached in Plano, Texas at 972-509-1201.

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 FBI can be reached by the public in the Eastern District of Texas at the following telephone numbers:

Beaumont – 409-832-8571
Frisco – 214-705-7000
Lufkin – 936-637-3834
Sherman – 903-892-8754
Texarkana – 870-773-3382
Tyler – 903-592-4301

Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, D.C. at 1-800-253-3931 or (202)307-2767.

Both protecting the right to vote and combating voter fraud are essential to maintaining the confidence of all Americans in our system of government.

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