• The Star Staff

US Attorney appoints district electoral officer

By The Star Staff

United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow announced Tuesday that the chief of the Financial Fraud & Corruption Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Erbe, will lead the efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the District of Puerto Rico in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming Nov. 3 general election that seeks to detect voting rights violations.

Erbe has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer for the District of Puerto Rico, and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights concerns 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,” Muldrow said in a statement. “The Department of Justice will always act appropriately to protect the integrity of the election process.”

“The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring election fraud and discrimination at the polls, and combating these violations whenever and wherever they occur,” the statement reads. “The Department’s long-standing Election Day Program furthers these goals, and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations while the polls are open through 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, 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 (where voters need assistance because of disability or illiteracy).

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on Nov. 3, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, Muldrow said Erbe will be on duty in the District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: 787-340-1795 or 787-340-1890.

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 787-754-6000 or 787-987-6500.

Complaints about possible violations of federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C. by phone at (800) 253-3931 or by complaint form at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.