Everyone is hoping the upcoming election will go smoothly, but if you notice any problems at the polls when you go out to vote, there's a new way to voice your concern. It's called Operation Fair Election. Attorney General John Ashcroft wants all judicial districts to have some type of election initiative to make sure the election goes smoothly. Here in the Southern Judicial District, the US attorney has taken it one step further to make it much easier for all of us.
The forty-three counties in Georgia's Southern Judicial District will have all have a special visitor at their respective county courthouses this election day: a representative from the US Attorney's Office, who's job is to take your election complaints.
"The purpose of this program is to simply detect, evaluate, and perhaps prosecute any election irregularities that may occur on election day," said Rick Thompson, the US attorney for our district.
The complaints can range from vote buying to abusing absentee ballots to not having a location acceptable for the precinct. Thompson says this program has nothing to do with the new electronic voting machines throughout the state.
"It would have been in place regardless of the fact we in Georgia, during this cycle, have new voting machines to deal with," he said.
It's a program Attorney General John Ashcroft emphasized for the first time, and the Southern Judicial District is taking it one step further. Let's say you can't make it to the county seat; you can just walk on down to the nearest payphone and file your complaint through a toll-free number.
The board of elections also gets phone calls on election day dealing with more local problems and they respond to the precinct immediately.
"What we do is we call the manager and find out what is going on," said the board's Gail Whitehead. "And if we don't get a satisfactory response, we go to the poll to look at the situation."
All you have to do to file a complaint with the US Attorney's Office is fill out a questionnaire with simple questions like who where, when and what happened.
The Operation Fair Election hotline number is 866-YOUR VOTE, and it's toll free.