NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS –Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan made clear today that voters can count on the full protection of federal law, if they are intimidated or coerced into voting against their wishes. And the congressman encouraged any voter who believes they are being threatened to contact him or federal law enforcement authorities.

“I have received reports that voters—especially government employees—are being told to use their cell phones to take a picture of their ballot, so that they can prove they voted ‘correctly,’ Congressman Sablan said.

“Voters who do not take a photo of their ballot or who did not vote for the candidates they were told to vote for are then at risk of losing their job.

“With a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives on the ballot, this is a federal election,” Sablan said. “And the kind of intimidation I am hearing about is a clear violation of federal law. Anyone who is willing to testify that they have been coerced in this way or brings me evidence of this kind of threat should know they will have the full protection of federal law.

“And anyone who is engaged in intimidating government employees or family members or any other voters should be on notice that they are in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, specifically 52 U.S.C. §10307(b).

“It may seem like a clever way to win hundreds of votes, but all it takes is one person to decide they will not be intimidated and to report the threat to law enforcement. Then what seemed clever suddenly means being on the wrong side of a federal prosecution.”

The relevant section of the Voting Rights Act says that “[n]o person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote.”

Voters may also file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Justice at https://www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php