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U.S. Attorney Steven D. Weinhoeft announced Assistant U.S. Attorney Norman R. Smith will lead local efforts in  connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the Nov. 3, 2020 general election. 

Smith has been appointed to serve as the district election officer for the Southern District of Illinois, 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, D.C.  

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or  discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” Weinhoeft said. “The  Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.”  

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 crimes such 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 laws. 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).  

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, Smith will be on duty while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at (618) 628-3700.  

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 (618) 397-4401.  

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly  to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., 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 have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.  

“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on  the cooperation of the American electorate,” Weinhoeft said. “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.”  

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