Ensuring a free, fair election

By Benjamin C. Glassman

Contributing columnist

Voting is the cornerstone of American democracy. And at the Department of Justice, we take very seriously our duty to ensure that all those entitled to the franchise are able to vote if they choose. Likewise, we work to bring to justice those who seek to corrupt the election process.

As U.S. Attorney, I have designated election officers in each of our three offices that represent the 48 counties in the Southern District of Ohio to carry out that duty in the upcoming general election.

Each election officer will oversee the office’s handling of any election fraud complaints or voting rights abuses.

Federal law protects voters against crimes including intimidation or bribery, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input. Federal law 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 that 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. Intimidating, threatening, or coercing anyone, or attempting to do so, for the purpose of interfering with that person’s right to vote is a federal crime.

In addition to the election officers in my office, the FBI will have special agents available in each office throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on Election Day. The phone number for the FBI is (513) 421-4310.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC by phone at (800) 253-3931, by email to voting.section@usdoj.gov or by complaint form at http://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.

Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. It is imperative that voters be left alone to vote their conscience, free of harassment, discrimination, intimidation, threats, or coercion, and that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.

Benjamin C. Glassman is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio

Benjamin C. Glassman is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio