Friday, March 16, 2012

U.S. Attorneys: Report Possible Election Fraud and Voting Rights Violations During March 18 Primaries

SAN JUAN—United States Attorney Rosa Emilia Rodríguez-Vélez announced today that a team of experienced Assistant U.S. Attorneys, led by Criminal Division Chief José A. Ruiz and District Election Officer Ernesto López-Soltero, will coordinate the efforts of her office in connection with the primaries scheduled to be held on March 18, 2012. AUSA López-Soltero, in his capacity as district election officer, is responsible for overseeing the district’s handling of complaints of election fraud and voting rights abuses in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters.

The main goal underlying this Justice Department initiative is to deter election fraud and discrimination at the polls and to prosecute these offenses whenever and wherever they occur—to make voting easier and cheating harder. Both goals are equally important. It is imperative that in pursuing voter integrity, ballot access is not in any way diminished or harmed. It is of utmost importance to the Department to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the election process. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it, while those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice.

In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights abuses on March 18, 2012 and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, USA Rodríguez-Vélez stated that Assistant U.S. Attorneys José A. Ruiz and Ernesto López Soltero will be on duty in this district while the polls are open. The public can contact these Assistant U.S. Attorneys to report possible election fraud and voting rights violations, while the polls are open on March 18, 2012, at the following telephone numbers: 787-340-0002 and 787-340-1735.

The FBI will also have special agents available in the San Juan Division to receive complaints regarding election fraud and other election abuses or violations. To file complaints regarding election fraud and voting rights violations, including acts of harassment, or intimidation, the public should call the FBI, 24 hours a day, at 787-754-6000 or 1-877-FBI-SJPR (1-877-324-7577). The public should be aware that FBI agents will not be assigned to “police” the electoral process or act as observers at the polls. FBI agents will not enter the polls in an official capacity or conduct any investigation inside any public facility in which the polls are located, except in case of extenuating circumstances.

United States Attorney Rodríguez-Vélez said, “Election fraud and voting rights abuses dilute the worth of votes honestly cast. 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, including acts of harassment or intimidation, should make that information available immediately to the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the FBI.”

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