Issues / Promoting Free and Fair Elections

Elected prosecutors have a critical role to play in ensuring fair and free elections and in guarding against interference with the right to vote. They can educate voters on their rights, dispel myths and misinformation, and underscore the integrity of the voting process. Prosecutors should also make clear that intimidation of, and interference with, voters will not be tolerated and that every voter has the right to cast their vote. Public trust is at the heart of public safety, so prosecutors must work to protect the integrity of elections and the legitimacy of election outcomes.

Information and Resources

Promoting Fair and Free Elections – Recommendations for Elected Prosecutor Engagement in Protecting the Right to Vote

OCT. 2020 – Public trust in democracy, the rule of law, and the integrity of our government is integral to public safety. When one system is attacked and fails, it compromises the ability of all systems to function, including the criminal legal system. This resource discusses ways that elected prosecutors can promote voter education and information sharing, debunk myths around the “dangers” of vote-by-mail, and help guard against interference with voting at the polls.

“Our democracy, which for centuries has been the envy of the world, is possible when everyone is free to vote.”
– Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Karl Racine

Elected Prosecutor Guide to Voter Protection Planning

OCT. 2020 – This guide operationalizes the recommendations in the above resource by addressing practical planning steps, key principles that should guide work with law enforcement partners, and questions to consider in guarding against disruptions and interference with voting at the polls.

Promoting Fair and Free Elections List of Resources and Materials

OCT. 2020 – This resource list contains useful resources that can assist elected prosecutors working to promote fair and free elections and protect the rights of all voters. The listed materials offer examples, ideas, promising practices, and key information that can guide elected prosecutors on issues including: enhancing voter information, debunking myths around voter fraud, and addressing concerns with private armed militia.

Early Voting Fact Sheet

OCT. 2020 – This fact sheet provides an overview of quick facts surrounding early voting in the United States and links to additional resources. It includes information on the availability of early voting across states, the status of early voting in the 2020 election cycle, and the length of early voting periods across the country.

Speaking Out

Protecting the Integrity of Our Elections: A Message from DAs and Criminal Justice Leaders to America.

JULY 2024 – Elected prosecutors are coming together to promote faith and trust in the fairness of United States elections. Dispelling myths about pervasive voter fraud, prosecutors are reminding eligible voters that their voices matter, and the health of our democracy rests on their participation.

“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy.”

Election law isn’t just a voting rights issue – it’s also a public safety issue

NOV. 7, 2022 – In Moore v. Harper, the Supreme Court will consider a little-known legal concept called the “independent state legislature theory” (ISLT) that, if adopted, would fracture the system of checks and balances at the heart of American democracy by allowing state legislatures to have unlimited and unrestrained authority over regulating federal elections and drawing congressional maps. In an op-ed in USA Today, Washtenaw County Prosecuting Attorney Eli Savit, Mecklenburg County Sheriff Garry McFadden, and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explain why all of us should be alarmed by the harmful impact a SCOTUS decision legitimizing ISLT could have on the integrity of judicial review and law enforcement’s ability to keep communities safe.

“If the Supreme Court decides that state legislators can effectively determine the outcome of federal elections with no oversight, its decision would have the potential to push community trust in the legal system to its breaking point.”

FJP Statement in Support of Universal Suffrage

OCT. 2021 – Over five million Americans with criminal records are unable to exercise their fundamental right to vote because of felon disenfranchisement laws — a practice that lacks any legitimate justification in public safety and instead creates further barriers to reentry into the community. FJP released a statement condemning these laws and supporting universal suffrage for all people with a criminal record, including those currently behind bars. The communities most deeply impacted by abuses of the criminal legal system must not be devalued or deprived of electoral power.

“Every state should allow [incarcerated people] to vote…. If more district attorneys, mayors, governors or attorneys general knew that every inmate could vote in their elections, they may start seeing them in a different light…maybe even treat them with some respect.”
– Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George

Texas’ voting restrictions are a threat to public safety

AUG. 31, 2021 – Efforts to suppress people’s fundamental right to vote threaten public safety by undermining trust in government and diverting limited resources to address a nonexistent problem. In an Austin American Statesman op-ed, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky and Texas District Attorney José Garza (Travis County) condemn the passage of legislation in Texas that unnecessarily restricts voting rights.

“Laws limiting voting access without justification inflict extraordinary damage on community trust, particularly in communities of color already wary of law enforcement after centuries of mistreatment…. Prosecutors and police should focus on addressing serious crimes that diminish public safety, not waste scarce time on imagined problems with no effect on elections or communities.”

DAs Warn Anti-Fraud Voting Laws Threaten Public Safety

JUNE 17, 2021 – Despite record turnout in the 2020 election and no evidence of any widespread voter fraud, legislatures in nearly every state have recently introduced or passed bills to restrict voting. In this op-ed in The Crime Report, Florida’s 13th Judicial Circuit State Attorney Andrew Warren and FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky discuss how these ongoing efforts to suppress the fundamental right to vote – including laws that criminalize voting – are a threat to public safety.

“Our local, state and federal leaders can turn their backs on these attacks on our democracy, jeopardizing the progress made over the past century to expand the right to vote to every American. Or they can take action to protect our fundamental right to vote, give more people a voice in our government, and strengthen this bedrock principle of our democracy.”

Over 90 Criminal Justice Leaders Condemn State Voter Suppression Efforts

JUNE 7, 2021 – Despite the lack of any evidence of widespread voter fraud, voter suppression laws are being introduced and passed across the country on a scale unseen since the Jim Crow era. More than 90 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders issued a joint statement condemning these efforts to limit and criminalize voting and calling on local and federal policymakers to protect our nation’s fundamental right to vote. For more, read the full statement and release.

“Today we are speaking out and standing together to protect a fundamental right of our democracy that is under attack. Doing nothing is simply not an option.”

Over 60 AGs and Elected Prosecutors Condemn Attack on Capitol as Assault on Democracy

JAN. 14, 2021 – Following the January 6, 2021 attacks on the nation’s Capitol by armed insurrectionists, over 60 current elected prosecutors issued a joint statement condemning President Trump’s incitement of violence and attempts to defy the results of a fair and free election. The statement calls out the profound inequities exhibited by the hands-off response by many in law enforcement a stark contrast to the aggressive and militarized use of force in response to protests around systemic racism over the past year. And it calls for accountability for anyone who incited or was involved in the attack and all who failed to prepare for and appropriately respond to it, and urges all elected leaders to immediately accept the results of the 2020 election. Read the statement and release.

“For the first time in American history, the sitting president incited a mob to defy the results of a fair & free election in an attempted coup. As Americans, we are deeply angered by this unprecedented assault on our Republic. And as elected chief prosecutors, we say enough.”

Protecting the Integrity of Our Elections: A Message from DAs and Criminal Justice Leaders to America

OCT. 2020 – The right to vote is foundational to our democracy, and we must all work together to protect those rights and preserve fair and free elections. See FJP’s video on this important and timely issue.

“Be heard. Be counted. Make a plan to vote.”

Local prosecutors are now the last defense against voter suppression and Election Day chaos

OCT. 17, 2020 – As Election Day nears, self-appointed poll watchers are preparing to patrol polling precincts for signs of voter fraud, even though it is exceedingly rare. In this op-ed in MarketWatch, FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky explains why these voter intimidation tactics are particularly concerning and how local prosecutors can ensure that everyone in their communities has the right to safely exercise their fundamental right to vote.

“Local elected leaders are needed now more than ever to speak out on behalf of protecting fair and free elections — and on behalf of all in their community who seek to exercise one of the most fundamental rights in our democracy: The right to vote.”

Fair and Just Prosecution Statement in Response to Weakening of DOJ Election Interference Policy

OCT. 7, 2020 – FJP Executive Director Miriam Krinsky issued this statement in response to reports that the US Department of Justice has weakened its long-standing prohibition against interfering in elections. Historically, avoiding election interference has been a fundamental overarching principle that guided DOJ policy on the timing of announcements in regard to voting-related crime. DOJ policy has generally barred prosecutors from making any announcement about ongoing investigations, and also from taking public steps before a vote is finalized, because the publicity could tip the balance of a race.

“There is simply no reason to depart from that sensible starting point that has guided federal prosecutors for years. Interference with a fair and free election threatens our democracy and imperils the legitimacy of our entire government.”

79 Criminal Justice Leaders Call for Protection of Voter Rights as Suppression and Intimidation Tactics Threaten a Fair Election

SEPT. 3, 2020 – Current efforts to undermine the voting process – including interference with the Postal Service and the threat of deploying law enforcement officials to police the polls – damage the fragile bonds of trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. In this joint statement, 79 elected prosecutors and law enforcement leaders condemn these tactics and call on all leaders around the nation to help combat these disheartening and destructive efforts. Read the release and statement.

“As elected prosecutors and law enforcement officials sworn to uphold the law, we are steadfastly committed to preserving the rights set forth in our Constitution and all of the political freedoms it represents. The American people must be able to safely vote and they must have faith those votes will be counted.”