Election Law Violations

Article excerpt

I.    INTRODUCTION

II.   ELECTION FRAUD
      A. General Issues
         1. Background
         2. Jurisdiction
         3. Prosecutorial Initiatives
         4. Covered Statutes
      B. Voter Intimidation Statutes
         1. Conspiracy Against Rights
            a. Background
            b. Scope
               i. Public Versus Private Schemes
            c. Penalties
         2. Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law
            a. Scope
            b. Penalties
         3. Federally Protected Activities
            a. Background
            b. Scope
            c. Penalties
         4. Intimidation of Voters
            a. Background
            b. Scope
            c. Penalties
         5. Intimidating in Voting and Registering
            a. Background
            b. Scope
            c. Penalties
         6. Troops at Polls
            a. Scope
            b. Penalties
      C. Voter Fraud Statutes
         1. False Information in Registering or Voting
            a. Background
            b. Scope
               i.   Furnishing False Information to an Election
                    Official
               ii.  Conspiracies to Encourage False Registration or
                    Illegal Voting
               iii. Commercialization of the Vote
            c. Penalties
         2. Fraudulent Registration or Voting
            a. Background
            b. Scope
               i.   Fraudulent Registration
               ii.  Fraudulent Voting
            c. Penalties
            d. Investigations
         3. Voting More than Once
            a. Scope
            b. Penalties
         4. False Citizenship Claims to Register or Vote
            a. Background
            b. Scope
            c. Penalties
         5. Voting by Aliens
      D. Alternative Theories of Prosecution
         1. Travel Act
         2. Mail Fraud
            a. Background
            b. Theories of Mail Fraud
               i.   Salary Theory
               ii. "Honest Services" Fraud
            c. Penalties

III.  CAMPAIGN FINANCE CRIMES
      A. General Issues
         1. Background
         2. Jurisdiction
         3. Criminal Prosecution
            a. Sentencing
         4. Covered Statutes
      B. FECA / BCRA In Depth
         1. Limitations on Contributions and Expenditures
         2. Contributions or Expenditures by National Banks,
            Corporations, or Labor Organizations
         3. Contributions by Government Contractors
         4. Contributions and Donations by Foreign Nationals
         5. Contributions in Name of Another Prohibited
         6. Limitation on Contribution of Currency
         7. Fraudulent Misrepresentation of Campaign Authority
         8. Soft Money of Political Parties
         9. Use of Contributed Amounts for Certain Purposes

I. INTRODUCTION

Congress has enacted a number of statutes that seek to prevent and punish election law violations by public officials, candidates, and other political actors.

Some of the statutes covered in this Article contain overlapping civil, criminal, and administrative penalty provisions. The Federal Election Commission ("FEC") has the jurisdiction to levy civil fines over all Federal Election Campaign Act ("FECA") (1) violations, including those committed "knowingly and willfully." (2) However, only the Department of Justice ("DOJ"), by and through Assistant United States Attorneys in the field and the Public Integrity Section in Washington, DC, may prosecute criminal FECA offenses. (3) To trigger criminal penalties, these offenses must have been committed "knowingly and willfully" and must involve aggregate amounts that satisfy certain monetary thresholds. (4) Other statutes mentioned fall solely within the jurisdiction of the DO J, such as election fraud involving federal elections. (5)

Section II of this Article examines several election fraud offenses. …