United States Attorney John C. Anderson has announced that Asst. U.S. Attorney (AUSA) Jeremy Peña will lead the efforts of his office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election. AUSA Peña has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the District of New Mexico, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
“Our system of government rests on the premise that elections are decided by eligible American citizens exercising their right to vote,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “The federal government is committed to doing its part to ensure that our elections are both free and fair.”
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.
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).
To respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on November 3, 2020, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, U.S. Attorney Anderson stated that AUSA/DEO Peña will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: 505-224-1451 and 505-269-2038.
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 505-889-1300.
“The American people expect and deserve fair, open, and honest elections that are free of interference,” said Special Agent in Charge James Langenberg. “The FBI has jurisdiction over federal election crimes like voter and ballot fraud, civil rights violations and campaign finance offenses, as well as computer intrusions. We are ready to quickly respond if required.”
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 https://civilrights.justice.gov/ .
In the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, voters should 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.
“Citizens can help us protect the integrity of our elections by reporting illegal actions,” said U.S. Attorney Anderson. “I encourage those who have specific information about such activities to make that information available immediately to my office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”