In preparation for Election Day, the Department of Justice has been appointing its district election officers across the country. Collaborating with state authorities, the DOJ, and the FBI, the attorneys serving as district election officers are in charge of receiving complaints of voting rights violations, including election fraud and voter intimidation, for the 2020 election. The DOJ appointees will investigate these claims and pursue prosecution as needed.
Last week the DOJ announced assistant US Attorney Liz Aloi as the officer in DC. Aloi’s been with the DOJ for eight years and previously worked as a senior counsel in the US Senate. In Maryland, the officer is assistant US Attorney Leo J. Wise, who has worked out of the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland for ten years. Before that he was director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Assistant US Attorneys Heidi Gesch, Matt Burke, and Seth Schlessinger will be the officers for the Alexandria division in the Eastern District of Virginia. They have backgrounds prosecuting cases including fraud, public corruption, and civil rights. Additionally, there are three district election officers covering Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News, and the Western District of VA.
Election fraud is extremely rare, but President Trump has continued to ratchet up concerns leading up to Election Day. Earlier this month, he cast doubt on the US Postal Service’s ability to securely deliver mail-in ballots and suggested that military voters’ ballots were particularly vulnerable. Those statements, too, were misleading and false.
Per a longstanding DOJ policy, prosecutors cannot pursue investigations into voting rights violations before the election is completed to ensure that their work doesn’t interfere in the election. But the DOJ might be listening more closely to the President’s words this year: ProPublica recently reported that this rule has changed. “If a U.S. attorney’s office suspects election fraud that involves postal workers or military employees, federal investigators will be allowed to take public investigative steps before the polls close, even if those actions risk affecting the outcome of the election,” write Robert Faturechi and Justin Elliott.