St. Thomas, USVI – United States Attorney Gretchen C.F. Shappert announced today that Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Alphonso Andrews will lead the efforts of his Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 3, 2020, general election. AUSA Andrews has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the Virgin Islands District 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.
United States Attorney Shappert said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination. Every vote must be counted in accordance with the law. 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 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 consent or without their approval. Federal law also provides protections for the rights of voters, and ensures that citizens can vote without intimidation or harassment. 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 election 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).
The voting franchise is the cornerstone of American democracy. We all must ensure that those who are entitled to the franchise exercise it if they choose, and that those who seek to corrupt the franchise are brought to justice. In order to respond to complaints of election fraud or voting rights concerns during the voting period that ends on November 3, 2020, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, United States Attorney Shappert stated that AUSA/DEO Alphonso Andrews will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone numbers: (340) 773-3920 or (340) 344-0503.
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 will have agents on St. Thomas and St. Croix available to respond and who can be reached by the public at (340) 777-3363.
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/.
Please note, however, that in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, please call 911 immediately, before contacting federal authorities. State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places, and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.
United States Attorney Shappert said, “Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the cooperation of the American electorate. It is imperative that those who have specific information about discrimination or election fraud make that information available to my Office, the FBI, or the Civil Rights Division.”