United States Attorney Delia L. Smith announced Wednesday that Assistant United States Attorney Daniel H. Huston has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the District of the Virgin Islands.
In that capacity, Huston is responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of election-day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff and election fraud.
Smith said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination, and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election. Similarly, election officials and staff members must be able to serve without being subjected to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”
The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers and election fraud and will address these violations wherever they occur. The department’s longstanding Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the electoral process by providing local points of contact within the department for the public to report possible federal election law violations.
Federal law protects against such crimes as threatening violence against election officials or staff, 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 interference, including intimidation, and other acts designed to prevent or discourage people from voting or voting for the candidate of their choice. The Voting Rights Act protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice when the voters need assistance because of a disability or inability to read or write in English.
“The franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise can exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice. In order to respond to complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the upcoming election, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Huston can be reached at (340) 713-4878 while the polls are open,” Smith said.
Additionally, the FBI will have special agents available to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day. On St. Thomas FBI special agents can be reached at (340) 777-3363, and on St. Croix at (340) 712-3400. Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can also be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC, by phone at (800) 253-3931, or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.
Smith said, “Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance of the American electorate. It is important that those who have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud make that information available to the Department of Justice.” Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.