NEW JERSEY – U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito announced Monday that Assistant U.S. Attorneys Allan Urgent, Mark McCarren and Gabriel Vidoni will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program.
“The right to vote without interference or discrimination, and to have that vote counted, is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Carpenito said. “We will not tolerate voter intimidation, voter bribery, election fraud or theft of ballots. We take seriously our responsibility to maintain the integrity of the election process.”
In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, the public can call the Election Day Hotline – 888-636-6596. This number will be active Oct. 30, 2020, through Nov. 6, 2020, and will be staffed live on Election Day, Nov. 3, 2020.
Federal law protects against such crimes as 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 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 (where voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy).
AUSAs Urgent, McCarren and Vidoni serve as the District Election Officers (DEOs) for the District of New Jersey, and in that capacity are responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
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 through Election Day.
In addition to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Hotline, 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 Newark field office can be reached by the public at 973-792-3000. The public may also call the FBI’s national tip line – 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), and calls will be routed as appropriate. The public may also submit online tips or complaints to the FBI via fbi.gov/tips .
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC by phone at 800-253-3931 or by complaint form at civilrights.justice.gov/ .
In the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, please call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division,” Carpenito said.