Attorney General Merrick B. Garland convened a virtual discussion Thursday with a bipartisan group of over 1,400 election officials to discuss mounting and persistent threats to the safety of election officials and workers across the country, and the Justice Department’s recently launched Election Threats Task Force. Attorney General Garland was joined by Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco; Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta; and Director of the FBI Christopher A. Wray.
Attorney General Garland reiterated that the right to vote is the foundation of our democracy, and the right from which all other rights flow. Our democracy depends on protecting the right of eligible voters to vote, and also on protecting those who administer and safeguard our electoral system. He made clear that the Justice Department will not tolerate threats to, or intimidation of, election officials and election workers, and that the Department is committed to supporting them as they fulfill their public duties. Attorney General Garland also stressed that communication between federal law enforcement and election officials is key to combatting threats, and that meetings like today’s are an integral part of fostering strong working relationships. His full remarks are available here.
Announced by Deputy Attorney General Monaco in June, the Election Threats Task Force is composed of the Department’s Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, the Civil Rights Division’s Voting and Criminal Sections, and the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section, as well as the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division and the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Deputy Attorney General Monaco provided an overview of how the Task Force unites subject matter experts from those offices and agencies to engage with state and local election agencies to better understand and deter threats to elections.
Associate Attorney General Gupta further elaborated on how the Civil Rights Division is participating in the Task Force and working more broadly to protect the right to vote and our country’s electoral processes. She also made participants aware of VictimConnect, a weekday helpline funded by the Office of Victims of Crime that connects victims of crimes and threats to trained professionals who can provide emotional support, information and referrals in over 200 languages by calling or texting 1-855-484-2846 (855-4VICTIM).
Director Wray explained how the FBI’s Election Crimes Coordinators — FBI Special Agents across all 56 FBI Field Offices — work with state and local election officials on election crime matters. He also stressed the importance of reporting all election-related threats and troubling communications to the FBI, even if it is unclear whether there is a violation of federal law, so that law enforcement can investigate, identify trends and share information with partners across the country.
Elections officials, including three secretaries of state, a state election director, and a county election supervisor had the opportunity to address and ask questions of the Attorney General and the Department leadership. The meeting ended with a firm reminder that the Department, through this Task Force, will use all available tools to protect the individuals working tirelessly to serve the public and maintain our proud tradition of free and fair elections.
To report suspected election related threats or violent acts, contact the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324), prompt 1, then prompt 3. You also may file an online complaint at tips.fbi.gov.