By Victoria Merlino
With the midterm election days away, the Department of Justice has introduced two new telephone numbers to receive complaints about possible federal election law violations in New York, according to a statement from the U.S. attorneys from the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York. Election monitors say voter fraud is extremely rare, however.
“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 statement read.
Intimidating or bribing voters, harassing voters at polling places, impersonating voters, buying and selling votes, stuffing the ballot box, altering voter tallies and marking ballots for voters against their wishes are all crimes that New Yorkers can report through the telephone numbers.
For Queens, the phone number to call is (718) 254-6790. For general inquiries about the polls or reports of potential New York state election law violations, call the City Board of Elections at (866) 868-3692.
Voter fraud has become a divisive political issue informed by misrepresentation of facts and outright lies, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
A 2017 report by the Brennan Center found that “most reported incidents of voter fraud are actually traceable to other sources, such as clerical errors or bad data matching practices.”
The report reviewed several elections that had been studied for voter fraud, and found incident rates between 0.0003 percent and 0.0025 percent of all votes, concluding that it is more likely an American “will be struck by lightning than that he will impersonate another voter at the polls.”
President Donald Trump fueled the vast voter fraud conspiracy when he said that millions of immigrants voted illegally in the 2016 Presidential Election. Trump instructed the Department of Justice to establish a voter fraud commission. The commission uncovered just 19 examples of alleged voter fraud before shutting down.
These new voter fraud phone numbers come as New York City looks to foster more accessibility at the polls.
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced that the city will provide language interpreters at approximately 100 polling sites. The interpreters will translate Russian, Haitian, Creole, Italian, Arabic, Polish or Yiddish.
The city already offers voting services in Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean and Bangla because of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“Voting should be an easy task, and we’re upholding that truth by identifying and filling gaps in communities where translation services are needed,” de Blasio said in a statement. “Whether it’s Haitian Creole, Russian or Arabic, we’re making sure that you’ll be able to participate in our democracy no matter what language you speak.”