FBI in El Paso working to prevent federal election crimes

Crime

Vote-by-mail lawsuits

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Democracy is top-of-mind for many as the 2020 election cycle kicks up, and the FBI is doing its part to protect against federal election crimes. 

A system of representative government is only able to function if votes are not manipulated and if campaign activities are regulated by law. Failure to do so threatens the democracy the United States was founded upon. 

Individual states bear the responsibility to conduct free and fair elections that the FBI protects in an effort to prevent violations of the U.S. Constitution. The FBI has federal jurisdiction in relation to election crimes if a ballot includes at least one federal candidate, an election or polling official abuses their authority, false voter registration, and any activity that violates federal campaign finance law. 

To help streamline federal election crimes that the FBI investigates, the Bureau created three broad categories: voter/ballot fraud, civil rights violations, and campaign finance offenses. 

You can learn more below.

Voter / Ballot Fraud 

  • A voter knowingly provides false information when registering to vote
    • False citizenship claims
  • An ineligible person votes in a federal election
    • Non-citizens
    • Some felons 
  • Vote-buying schemes in which the voter is paid or receives something of value in exchange for their vote or registering to vote
    • Money 
    • Drugs
    • Gifts 
  • A person votes more than once in a federal election
    • Obtaining an absentee ballot in the names of people who cannot vote or are deceased 
  • An election official corrupts their office in favor of a candidate or party 
    • Stuffing ballot boxes with illegal ballots 
    • Manipulates ballot tally 

Civil Rights Violations 

  • A voter is threatened with physical or economic harm if they refuse to vote a certain way 
  • Any effort to prevent an eligible voter from effectively voting through deception 

Campaign Finance Crimes related to the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)

  • Excessive contributions
    • An individual gives more than a specified sum of money (or other valuables) to a federal candidate (the current individual donor limit is $2,700 per candidate per election)
  • Conduit contributions
    • also known as “straw donor schemes,” in which a donor asks an individual to contribute to a federal candidate and later provides the sum or reimburses the expenses 
  • Domestic prohibited sources 
    •  a corporation, labor organization, bank, or government contractor contributes to a federal candidate’s campaign 
  • Foreign prohibited sources
    • A foreign person or entity (not including permanent residents) contributes to a federal, state, or local candidate 
    • Makes independent expenditures to influence an election 
  • SuperPACS and independent expenditure organizations 
    • FECA donation limits do not apply to independent expenditure organizations’ contributions or expenditures
      • It is unlawful for these entities to coordinate activity with a campaign 
  • State campaign finance laws
    • Violations of state campaign finance laws are not considered a federal crime 
      • Some violations may be investigated, however

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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