For the first time FBI agents can remember, they will hold a pre-election meeting in Columbus Friday afternoon with the Ohio Secretary of State and the U. S. Attorney's Office.
The FBI has been involved in election security since the 1970s, and in 2006 developed a campaign finance and ballot fraud initiative. In 2016, it added a cyber component to monitor election fraud.
For this election, the agency has been holding command post exercises over the summer. In Cincinnati, a special agent and an intelligence analyst have been preparing to focus on federal election crimes.
Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman, who oversees the Cincinnati field office as well as Dayton, Columbus and three other offices in smaller cities, says there are a variety of threats.
"Voter intimidation; giving something of true value for a vote; straw voting; ballot stuffing; double voting. Those types of things would be allegations we'd take a look at," says Hoffman.
Election Crimes Fall Into 4 Broad Categories:
- Ballot fraud
- Campaign finance violations
- Patronage offenses
- Civil rights violations, such as voter suppression or voter intimidation
Hoffman says the FBI doesn't certify the election; that's local officials. But the agency is talking to them about risks.
States, cities and counties manage elections and have their own election laws. The FBI says an election crime becomes a federal crime when a ballot includes one or more federal candidates; election or polling place officials abuse their office; the conduct involves false voter registration; or the crime is motivated by hostility toward minority protected classes.
Are You A Victim Of An Election Crime?