Michigan officials worried about people threatening, intimidating each other during contentious election

Interfering with someone’s right to vote is federal crime

FBI, U.S. Attorneys concerned about potential voter intimidation.
FBI, U.S. Attorneys concerned about potential voter intimidation.

Officials in Michigan are reminding residents it’s a crime to threaten or intimidate people over their right to vote, even ahead of what’s expected to be a very contentious election.

“You know what we have is a very contentious election coming up,” U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said. “It is a federal crime to interfere with somebody’s right to vote.”

Schneider spoke with the Local 4 Defenders just 36 days before the presidential election. He said he’s never seen people so fired up.

Schneider is concerned political arguments could turn into federal crimes.

"We are asking for help and support, “Schneider said. “If anyone is threatening you, call the FBI, call the US Attorney so we can take action.”

The concern is that people might make threats to others over politics, and that can scare people away from the polls.

“This year it is so contentious, both sides, so angry,” Schneider said. “When people are angry, they take to Facebook.”

He said officials are looking for those cases so they can bring people to justice.

Arguing over politics is an American tradition and protected by the First Amendment, but threatening people to keep them from voting is a crime, Schneider said.


About the Authors:

Shawn Ley is an Emmy-Award winning reporter. In more than 20 years covering stories in television news, Shawn’s reporting has taken him from war-torn eastern Europe, to reporting from an F-16 fighter jet and now to the fast and furious breaking news of Detroit.

Derick is a Senior Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.