New Castle News

Closer Look

November 5, 2012

Election complaints hotline announced

NEW CASTLE — Assistant U.S. attorney Shaun E. Sweeney will lead the efforts of his office in the Justice Department’s Election Day Program.

Sweeney, chief of the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Rights and Exploitation Section, has been appointed to serve as the district election officer for the Western District of Pennsylvania, U.S. Attorney David J. Hickton announced. In that capacity, he is responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department headquarters in Washington.

“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have their vote counted,” Hickton said. “The department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”

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.

Hickton said Sweeney and a team of lawyers will be on duty while the polls are open. They can be reached at: (412) 894-7516.

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 at (412) 432-4000.

Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington at (800) 253-3931 or (202) 307-2767 or at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/.

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