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United States Attorneys Announce Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative for November 2012 Elections

U.S. Attorney’s Office October 26, 2012
  • Eastern District of Arkansas (501) 340-2600

LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, announced today that they have appointed Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) to lead the efforts of their offices in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 6, 2012 general elections. AUSA Tricia Harris has been appointed to serve as the district election officer (DEO) for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and AUSA Kenny Elser has been appointed to serve as the DEO for the Western District of Arkansas. In that capacity, they are responsible for overseeing their district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

“Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government,” stated Thyer. “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 immediately to my office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”

United States Attorney Eldridge said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process. My designated election officer will be available while the polls are open to take your calls about any suspected election fraud or discrimination.”

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.

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 November 6, 2012, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, both United States Attorneys stated that the designated AUSA/DEO will be on duty in this district while the polls are open. He/she can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers:

  • 501-340-2600 for the Eastern District of Arkansas
  • 479-783-5125 for the Western District of Arkansas.

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 local FBI field office can be reached by the public at 501-221-9100.

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