The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the VirgiN islands is readying its election efforts to respond to any election complaints, U.S. Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced Tuesday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Alphonso Andrews will lead the efforts in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the Nov. 6 general election, Shappert said in a news release. Andrews has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the Virgin Islands District and in that capacity 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 that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud,” Shappert said. “The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The department’s long-standing Election Day Program also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Justice 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, 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, Shappert said, 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 when voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy.
Shappert said Andrews will be on duty in this district while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: 340-773-3920 or 340-344-0503.
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 340-777-3363.
Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section in Washington, DC by phone at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767, by fax at 202-307-3961, by email to [email protected] or by complaint form at the department’s website.
“Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate,” Shappert said. “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.”