Officials in place to handle voting rights abuses on Election Day

Marilyn Tennissen Nov. 3, 2008, 7:31am

As thousands of voters head to the polls Tuesday for one of the most important presidential elections in American history, local residents have a place to turn if they suspect any type of voter fraud or voting rights abuses.

U.S. Attorney Rebecca A. Gregory announced that Michelle Englade, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Texas, has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer. Englade will be responsible for overseeing the district's handling of fraud or abuses in connection with the Justice Department's Election Day Program.

"Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast," Gregory said. "They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government. As crimes against both the individual and the government, they will be dealt with promptly and aggressively. Anyone who has information suggesting electoral corruption or voting rights abuses should make that information available immediately to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division."

The Ballot Access and Voting Integrity Initiative was established by Attorney General John Ashcroft on Oct. 8, 2002. The goal of the initiative is to increase the Justice Department's ability to deter voter intimidation, suppression, discrimination and election fraud and to prosecute the offenses.

According to a press release from Gregory's office, the Election Day Program works to further the goals of the initiative and ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact so that the public can report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open on Election Day.

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on Nov. 4, Englade in Beaumont, AUSA Andrew Stover in Plano and AUSA Tom Gibson in Tyler will be on duty in the Eastern District while the polls are open. They can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: 877-481-5030, 409-839-2538, 972-509-1201, and 903-590-1400.

The FBI will also have Special Agents available in each field office and resident agency in this District to receive allegations of election fraud, intimidation, suppression, and other election abuses. The FBI can be reached by the public at their Dallas office at 972-559-5000 and Houston office at 713-693-5013.

Complaints about ballot access problems or discrimination can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division's Voting Section in Washington at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767.

Where voter intimidation or suppression tactics target voters on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin, please contact the Civil Rights Division's Criminal Section at 202-514-3204.

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