The FBI is warning voters against election-related crimes, a standard warning before all major elections but one that warrants increased vigilance this year amid threats to local election workers.
Specifically, the FBI is warning voters against ballot and voter fraud, campaign finance violations and civil rights violations such as voter suppression and voter intimidation.
“Free and fair democratic elections are one of the founding pillars of the United States,” the FBI said in its 2022 November midterm elections warning. “The FBI is committed to protecting every eligible citizen’s right to vote. Consistent with past practice, the FBI is providing this information to educate voters about federal election crimes and how to avoid them, and to encourage voters to report suspected violations to your local FBI field office.”
Examples of federal election crimes include giving false information when registering to vote, voting more than once, buying votes, changing ballot markings, intentionally lying about the time or place of an election to prevent people from voting, and threatening voters with physical or financial harm, the FBI noted. The FBI also warned voters about fraudulent political action committees that reroute funds for personal gain.
The FBI encouraged voters to know when, where and how they will vote; seek out trustworthy information; report suspected election-related crimes; and do research before making political donations.
Meanwhile, seven states continue to see unusual levels of threats to election workers, senior FBI officials said in a briefing earlier this month. Since June 2021, the FBI has received more than 1,000 tips concerning threats to election workers, according to the agency. Roughly 11% of those tips have led to FBI investigations.
Those states are Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin — all states where the 2020 election results were questioned, officials noted. President Biden won each of those states. FBI officials are discussing how to deal with these threats as state officials in 8,800 election districts prepare for the midterm elections next month.
Last week, an Iowa man was arrested for allegedly threatening to “lynch” and “hang” a Maricopa County, Arizona, election official nearly a year after the 2020 election, the Justice Department announced. Mark Rissi was arrested Thursday for allegedly leaving voicemails for the unnamed election official, in which Rissi allegedly threatened the official with lynching, hanging, and torches, according to the indictment filed against him.
— Andy Triay and Jeff Pegues contributed to this report