U.S. Attorney’s Office eyeing any possible election fraud

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(Host) The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Vermont will be the chief federal agency to investigate possible cases of criminal fraud in tomorrow’s election.

The office will specifically look at any complaints that relate to the integrity of the election and the protection of rights of voters.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports

(Kinzel) The election oversight program is part of a national effort that’s being implemented by the United States Department of Justice.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Conroy will be the chief enforcement officer in Vermont. He says he’s got a clear assignment:

(Conroy) “In order to ascertain whether or not they are any criminal conduct going on in the voting process.”

(Kinzel) Conroy says his office will be looking at two basic types of criminal conduct:

(Conroy) “The conduct must involve either fraudulently placing invalid names on voter registration lists or must involve the direct interference with the voting process itself such as false tallies or inserting bogus ballots in a ballot box, destroying or not counting plainly lawful ballots or somehow engaging in activity that deprives voters of their right to make their free and voluntary choice either through vote buying or voter intimidation.”

(Kinzel) Conroy says the F.B.I. also has a role in this process:

(Conroy) “The F.B.I. has the investigative jurisdiction to pursue these complaints and these leads should they arise. We would work with the F.B.I. should the need arise, however we would also consult with the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice. They would have to authorize a full field investigation of any such complaint.”

(Kinzel) While his office is prepared to deal with allegations of criminal conduct, Conroy says he isn’t anticipating that there will be need to send investigators into the field.

(Conroy) “This hasn’t been a problem historically in Vermont, whereas it’s been a problem in several other jurisdictions. There are some areas that are not federal election fraud that often arise such as a candidate issuing in accurate campaign literature or campaigning too close to the polls or simply failing to abide by state mandated voting procedures. Those are not considered to be federal election crimes.”

(Kinzel) Conroy says he hopes to work closely with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office to ensure “that those who are entitled to the franchise are able to exercise it while those who seek to corrupt it are brought to justice.”

For Vermont Public Radio I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier

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