Voters in the United States have the right to cast their ballots freely, safely and privately—without fear. Both federal and state law provide protections against voter intimidation.
These protections can sometimes be confusing. But they are important. Recent events have raised concerns that voters may face intimidation at the polls, and high-profile prosecutions have made clear that state voter intimidation statutes can be effective if state officials enforce these rules aggressively.
Voters and election officials need to know how the law protects them in order to guard against voter intimidation on Election Day.
Federal law protects voters from intimidation.
The federal voter intimidation law makes it a crime for any person to intimidate, threaten or coerce any other person in order to interfere with their right to vote. The law applies to any federal election and applies to attempted intimidation, too. This law protects voters in a wide variety of ways. For instance, it is a federal crime under this law to:
Violations of federal voter intimidation law can be reported to the United States Department of Justice via phone at (800)-253-3931, e-mail (email@example.com). Voters can seek advice on how to report intimidation by calling the national, nonpartisan Election Protection coalition at 866-OUR-VOTE.
In addition to federal laws against voter intimidation, states have additional laws to protect voters.
States have their own rules to protect voters. In most states, voter intimidation is a crime, and campaigning and electioneering in direct proximity of the polls is illegal. Furthermore, local election officials and law enforcement have the legal right to remove individuals who violate these rules and voters have the right to report individuals who intimidate them at the polls.
State rules often include details on who may observe polls and make clear that ‘poll-watchers,’ ‘challengers’ and others who would like to observe the voting process are subject to strict behavioral rules. These observers are not allowed to intimidate or deter eligible voters under the guise of fighting voter fraud.
1. Corruption is not only about bribes: People especially the poor get hurt when resources are wasted. That’s why it is so important to understand the different kinds of corruption to develop smart responses.
2. Power of the people: Create pathways that give citizens relevant tools to engage and participate in their governments – identify priorities, problems and find solutions.
3. Cut the red tape: Bring together formal and informal processes (this means working with the government as well as non-governmental groups) to change behavior and monitor progress.
4. It’s not 1999: Use the power of technology to build dynamic and continuous exchanges between key stakeholders: government, citizens, business, civil society groups, media, academia etc.
5. Deliver the goods: Invest in institutions and policy – sustainable improvement in how a government delivers services is only possible if the people in these institutions endorse sensible rules and practices that allow for change while making the best use of tested traditions and legacies – imported models often do not work.
6. Get incentives right: Align anti-corruption measures with market, behavioral, and social forces. Adopting integrity standards is a smart business decision, especially for companies interested in doing business with the World Bank Group and other development partners.
7. Sanctions matter: Punishing corruption is a vital component of any effective anti-corruption effort.
8. Act globally and locally: Keep citizens engaged on corruption at local, national, international and global levels – in line with the scale and scope of corruption. Make use of the architecture that has been developed and the platforms that exist for engagement.
9. Build capacity for those who need it most: Countries that suffer from chronic fragility, conflict and violence– are often the ones that have the fewest internal resources to combat corruption. Identify ways to leverage international resources to support and sustain good governance.
10. Learn by doing: Any good strategy must be continually monitored and evaluated to make sure it can be easily adapted as situations on the ground change.
What are other ways we could fight corruption? Tell us in the comments.
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