The U.S. Attorneys for the Eastern and Western Districts of Arkansas announced Friday (Oct. 26) the assistant attorneys who “will lead the efforts” connected to a U.S. Department of Justice program to handle election day complaints.
Attorney Tricia Harris will be the “District Election Officer” in the Eastern District, and Attorney Kenny Elser will serve in the same capacity in the Western District.
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. For the Eastern District of Arkansas, the number is (501) 340-2600, and (479) 783-5125 for the Western District.
“Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. They also corrupt the essence of our representative form of government,” Christopher Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, said in a statement.
“Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted without it being stolen because of fraud. The Department of Justice will act promptly and aggressively to protect the integrity of the election process. My Designated Election Officer will be available while the polls are open to take your calls about any suspected election fraud or discrimination,” Conner Eldridge, United States Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas, noted.
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.
The law requires an assistant U.S. Attorney or district election officer to be on call in the respective district while the polls are open on election day. 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 Arkansas FBI field office can be reached by the public at (501) 221-9100.