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Federal Election Law Hotlines Tend To Be Snoozers In NW

This election day, the U.S. Department of Justice will have federal attorneys in every state, ready to take complaints. It's a long-standing program aimed at combating election fraud and voter rights abuses. But the hotlines tend to be pretty quiet in the Northwest.

The election day program has been around for decades. But attorneys in Oregon and eastern Washington say -– at least in recent memory -– they haven't gotten any complaints. Western Washington received a few calls in 2008 about voter registration issues.

Adrian Brown is the federal attorney appointed to handle Oregon's calls this year. She says federal voting laws mostly have to do with access to polls –- which neither Oregon nor Washington have anymore.

“Having said that however, there is always the possibility that someone could still be intimidated, someone could still be coerced. Votes could still be purchased or bought," Brown says. "And those are the types of concerns we would definitely want to hear about if that's happening out there.”

Idaho has seen more complaints: Federal attorneys in several corners of the state typically get between 10 and 20 calls.

One year, for example, a bar in Ketchum got reported for its beer and pizza discount to voters. A federal attorney in Boise says that counts as a monetary payment for voting.

He says other complaints have been about voter influence at an assisted living facility and political activity happening too close to polling sites.

On the Web:

Federal voter complaint hotlines:

Western Washington

Eastern Washington



Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Voters can call an election law hotline to combat voter fraud and rights abuses. Photo by Big Dubya via Flickr
Voters can call an election law hotline to combat voter fraud and rights abuses. Photo by Big Dubya via Flickr

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.