PROVIDENCE – United States Attorney Zachary A. Cunha announced today that Assistant United States Attorney Terrence P. Donnelly has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the District of Rhode Island for the upcoming November 8, 2022, general election. The District Election Officer 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, in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.
United States Attorney Cunha said, “It is a cornerstone of our Republic that every citizen be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have their vote counted in a fair and free election. And it is equally critical that election officials and staff be able to serve without being subject 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 long had 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. During the upcoming election, AUSA Donnelly will be on duty in this District to respond to any complaints of voting rights or election fraud concerns and to ensure that such complaints are handled or directed to the appropriate authorities. He can be reached by the public at (401) 709-5068
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 (where voters need assistance because of disability or inability to read or write in English). . .
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 (401) 272-8310.
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/.
United States Attorney Cunha added, “Ensuring free and fair elections depends in large part on the assistance and vigilance of the American electorate. If you have specific information about voting rights concerns or election fraud, we rely on you to make that information available to the Department of Justice.”
Please note, however, that if you are the victim of a crime of violence or intimidation, please 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.