Friday, November 2, 2012

Voter fraud hotline: Report it if you see it in Connecticut

NEW HAVEN — A telephone hotline will be available for anyone who witnesses or experiences voting irregularities on Election Day. (Scroll down to see the New Haven ballot)
This is according to a release by David B. Fein, U.S. attorney for the District of Connecticut; Kimberly K. Mertz, special agent in charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Michael J. Brandi, executive director of the state Elections Enforcement Commission; Secretary of the State Denise Merrill, and Chief state’s Attorney Kevin T. Kane.
The hotline will be staffed by the State Elections Enforcement Commission during polling hours Election Day, Nov. 6. Anyone with knowledge of election fraud or voting rights abuses is encouraged to call 1-866-733-2463 (1-866-SEEC-INFO) to report suspected violations, the release said. The number is toll-free statewide.
 Individuals also can call the SEEC at 860-256-2940. Citizens can also email to communicate with the SEEC and the secretary of the state’s office on Election Day, the release said.
SEEC staff will answer questions, advise on complaint procedures and, if appropriate, request the assistance of state criminal or federal law enforcement authorities in the investigation and possible prosecution of the matter, the release said.
The SEEC is the primary elections investigative and civil enforcement authority in Connecticut, and the secretary of the state is charged with overseeing all elections in Connecticut, which includes advising and assisting local registrars of voters and town clerks on their statutory responsibilities regarding administration of elections, the release said.
Federal law protects against crimes such 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 ballots or to be assisted by a person of their choice, the release said.
On Nov. 6, representatives of the U.S. attorney’s office and FBI will be in direct contact with the SEEC in order to receive complaints of electoral corruption or civil rights violations, the release said. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher M. Mattei was appointed to serve as the district election officer for Connecticut, the release said.
The local FBI field office in New Haven can be reached at 203-777-6311. Also, 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.

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