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What is the Federal Government Doing to Protect Voters and Election Workers?

In light of recent news stories about threats to election workers and voter harassment, U.S. Vote Foundation thought it important to highlight the protections that exist under federal law to ensure the ability of American citizens to participate freely and safely in U.S. elections.

The mission of the U.S. Justice Department is to “remain vigilant in detecting, investigating, and pursuing violations of federal civil and criminal laws related to voting.” As it has done in previous elections, the U.S. Justice Department will be putting procedures in place to ensure voting in this year’s presidential election is safe for all voters and election workers, and free from criminal activity.

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department is responsible for ensuring the rights granted by the following statutes are protected:

  • Voting Rights Act
  • National Voter Registration Act
  • Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act
  • Help America Vote Act
  • Civil Rights Act
  • Americans with Disabilities Act

Throughout the election cycle, the Civil Rights Division will have attorneys available to hear voter complaints regarding violations. The Justice Department has a telephone hotline and online portal where voters can submit complaints related to race, heritage, language, registration, overseas/military voting, and provisional balloting. A subgroup enforces the laws specifically related to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Civil Rights Division is also tasked with combating specialized election crimes. Such crimes include the destruction of ballots, double voting, use of a fraudulent ballot, altering a vote, the use of violence or the threat of violence against a poll worker, and voter intimidation or voter suppression. When necessary, the Justice Department works with U.S. Attorney offices and the FBI to ensure voters’ complaints are handled appropriately.

The Election Crimes Branch, National Security Division, and the Department of Homeland Security are brought in to protect against larger-scale criminal activities involving foreign governments, cyber crimes, threats to campaigns or candidates, campaign finance scams, and targeting election infrastructure.

Even though our federal government has commissioned several key departments to protect the rights of voters and election workers, if you encounter violence, threats of violence, or attempts of intimidation at your polling place or at any time during the voting process, do not hesitate to first contact your local authorities.

Once you have notified your local authorities, the Department of Justice should be your next contact.

Department of Justice
Voting Rights Law Violation Hotline