What to do when you spot suspicious activities at the polls

Have you witnessed violence, intimidation or irregularities at your polling place on Election Day? Report what you've seen to local cops and your state’s DOJ-appointed U.S. Attorney.

Illustration of interactive map tool for contacting your state's U.S. Attorney. (U.S. government image)

WASHINGTON, November 7, 2016 – Individual American citizens can’t realistically track or even recognize every potential voting crime they might encounter when going to the polls on Tuesday, November 8. It’s practically impossible. Yet it still is possible to spot what may appear to be obvious voting irregularities, particularly activities and conduct that may seem to be clearly wrong, intimidating or overly aggressive.

It clearly doesn’t take a tech genius to spot instances of overt voter intimidation or illegal campaigning at local polling sites, including disrespectful or threatening treatment of voters or aggressive precinct officials who appear to be rushing people through the voting process. Activities such as these can be signs of possible trouble.

If you spot occurrences like these as well as other apparent voting irregularities or violations, is there anything that you, the average citizen, can do?

Department of Justice (DOJ) officials have stated that the agency’s Criminal Division will be on duty to receive public complaints and coordinate the handling of election crime allegations. DOJ recommends that complaints related to clear cases of violence, threats of violence or intimidation at a polling place should be reported first to local police authorities.

But after reporting such an incident there’s actually more you can do.

How to Report Suspicious Election Activities

DOJ news releases specify that if voters observe serious disruptions at their polling place, such as violence or aggressive voter intimidation, they should immediately call 911 and report such incidents to the local police.

Next: Follow up on that 911 call by contacting the Attorney General assigned to monitor the election in your state. Here’s a link to all of the Attorneys General in the U.S. as well as its possessions:


How to find your State’s Attorney

As shown in the illustration appearing above, all you have to do after accessing this link is to click on your state and likely AG region on the map and your local contact information will pop up. Call the number provided and ask how to report an election incident. You’ll receive specific instructions for your state.

Read more: Election Day shenanigans Tuesday? Call the FBI. Here’s how

If what you’ve seen appears to be quite serious, you can also contact the DOJ itself in Washington, DC. However, contacting your local resources will probably get faster and more immediate results than contacting Washington.

Bottom line? If violence or voter intimidation is being witnessed at your polling place, don’t just call 911. Report any problems as far and wide as you can. It may increase the odds that something will be done.

Let’s do our part to Keep Voting Honest

No, you’re not weird or paranoid for letting people know what you’re seeing, and you’re definitely not “snitching.” Expressing your concerns about something that seems wrong or off is still the right thing to do.

In addition, letting Federal officials know you’re concerned about something that’s suspicious during a national election at your local, authorized polling place is functionally no different from calling your local police and asking them to check on something suspicious in your neighborhood.

Whether you’re dealing with the local cops, an FBI agent, or an attorney general, we as Americans should always remember that their paychecks come out of our local or Federal taxes. We pay for these government employees’ services. They are on retainer. For us.

It is the job of law enforcement officials to respond to your expressed concerns. But none of them can respond until you tell them what the problems are.

So remember: if any circumstances at your polling place on Election Day give you reason to be suspicious, follow the response chain we’ve listed here, and ask you local Attorney General to check things out. And further encourage them do their jobs by asking them to get back to you with their findings.

As the voiceover announcer might say on a late night TV commercial:

Call now! Our Lines are Open! All 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices are open for business to pursue voting place criminals on Election Day and waiting to take your call!

Remember: we all need to do our part to keep Election 2016 as honest and straightforward as possible.

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