Election Officials On Fraud Lookout

BERLIN – Just days before the presidential election on Tuesday, a team of federal prosecutors and FBI agents are coordinating with state and local elections boards, including Worcester County, to review any allegations of election fraud and voting rights abuses that might arise.

The federal task force has consulted with the Maryland Elections Administrator and other state and local officials to review and discuss procedures for handling alleged election fraud schemes or voting rights violations. The effort was made necessary by reported illegal voter registration schemes in various jurisdictions around the country as Tuesday’s contentious general election draws closer.

In Maryland, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein is spearheading the task force with assistance from FBI and state and local authorities. Rosenstein said this week any hint of improprieties leading up to election day will be dealt with swiftly and sternly.

“Our goal is to prevent election fraud and preserve public confidence in the integrity of the democratic process,” he said. “Because elections involve high stakes and strong emotions, allegations of wrongdoing frequently arise. We will review all allegations in a non-partisan manner and pursue any evidence that warrants criminal prosecution.”

Locally, the Worcester County Board of Elections has been involved in the discussions with state and federal officials about the potential for fraud or voting rights abuses. County Elections Board supervisor Patti Jackson said this week she has not seen any hints of abuses, nor have any been reported by private citizens, but her department is getting prepared nonetheless.

“We’ve been in communication with the Attorney General’s Office and like everyone else, we’re keeping a close eye on things,” she said. “If we hear of any irregularities at the polling places or anybody intimidating voters at the polls, or anything else that hints of abuses or fraud, we will alert the proper authorities.”

Jackson said the closest thing to election fraud her department usually deals with is people registered in other areas attempting to vote in Worcester where they have second homes or vacation homes.

“It comes up here from time to time, particularly because of the transient nature of the population in some of the resort areas,” she said. “We’ll see examples of people trying to vote here when they’re registered somewhere else, but it doesn’t happen too often. If their car is registered here, or they file their income taxes from here, they can register to vote here.”

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