CLEVELAND — With the general election just a few days away, the Cleveland FBI is warning Ohioans of federal election crimes and how to prevent them.

What You Need To Know

  • Federal election crimes can include campaign finance violations, ballot/voter fraud, and civil rights violations

  • Federal law protects against intimidating and bribing voters, buying and selling votes, and more

  • The Cleveland FBI said voter and ballot fraud is among the most common violations

These crimes include campaign finance violations, ballot/voter fraud, and civil rights violations.

“Cleveland FBI stands ready to assist; our team of election crime coordinators, investigators, and special agents remain vigilant and focused on protecting the election from potential threats,” said FBI Cleveland Special Agent in Charge Gregory Nelsen in a press release. “Investigating allegations of voter fraud or other election crimes is one of our highest priorities. We encourage voters to learn and understand what constitutes an election crime and urge the public to report any instance of wrongdoing.”

Federal law protects against the following: threatening violence against election officials or staff, intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.

The Voting Rights Act also protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or have help by a person of their choice.

According to the Cleveland FBI, a federal election crime is committed when there are one or more federal candidates on the ballot and one or more of the following occurs:

  • Election or polling place officials abuse their office
  • The conduct involves voter or ballot fraud
  • The crime is motivated by hostility toward protected minority groups
  • The activity violates federal campaign finance law

Voter and ballot fraud are among the most common violations. This can include:

  • A voter intentionally gives false information when registering
  • An ineligible person votes
  • An individual votes more than once in a federal election
  • Election officials who inappropriately use their office to benefit a candidate or party 
  • A voter receives something of value, such as money or other bribes, to vote for a certain candidate

If a person witnesses an election crime, the Cleveland FBI encourages individuals to contact its office by calling 216-522-1400.