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FBI outlines what constitutes a federal election crime

FBI Cincinnati
Posted at 10:22 AM, Nov 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-07 11:22:14-05

While local and state law enforcement officials are largely responsible for enforcing election laws, the FBI said it could get involved in many circumstances.

Those include when:

  • A ballot includes one or more Federal candidates
  • Election or polling place officials abuse their office
  • The conduct involves false voter registration
  • The crime is motivated by hostility toward protected minority groups
  • The activity violates federal campaign finance law

If one of the above criteria is met, the following would be a violation of federal election law:

  • Giving false information when registering to vote
  • Voting more than once
  • Changing ballot markings or otherwise tampering with ballots
  • Vote buying
  • Threatening voters with physical or financial harm
  • Intentionally lying about the time, manner, or place of an election to prevent qualified voters from voting
  • Political fundraising by federal employees
  • Campaign contributions above legal limits
  • Conduit contributions/straw donor schemes
  • Contributions from foreign or other prohibited sources
  • Use of campaign funds for personal or unauthorized purposes

The FBI said the following do not violate federal law:

  • Giving voters rides to the polls or time off to vote
  • Offering voters a stamp to mail a ballot
  • Making false claims about oneself or another candidate
  • Forging or faking nominating petitions
  • Campaigning too close to polling places
  • Honest mistakes by poll workers
  • Lack of immediate election results while ballots are counted

The FBI offered the following advice to voters before heading to the polls:

  • Know when, where, and how you will vote.
  • Seek out election information from trustworthy sources, verify who produced the content, and consider their intent.
  • Report potential election crimes—such as disinformation about the manner, time, or place of voting—to the FBI.
  • If appropriate, make use of in-platform tools offered by social media companies for reporting suspicious posts that appear to be spreading false or inconsistent information about voting and elections.
  • Research individuals and entities to whom you are making political donations. If something seems suspicious, reconsider the donation.