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Though I live in California, and so have not had to contend with voter suppression or intimidation, I thought it would be useful—in case I ever were to be confronted by someone—to have some basic knowledge of the laws that protect my right to vote freely in a federal election.  

These sections of the US Code are excerpted from and available in their entirety at Cornell’s online Legal Information Institute. Keep in mind that there are likely to be cases applying and further interpreting these laws.  I planned merely to cite them as a way of making any would-be intimidators think twice.  And by think twice, I don't just mean reconsidering the potential legal consequences of their intimidation tactics, but also, the very premise of underlying their use of such tactics.  Specifically, the idea that their fellow citizens are less informed and thus less worthy of the franchise.

Maybe I'm being naive.  But this kind of pushback could not only protect votes.  It could also help change minds.

NOTE: I am NOT an attorney, and that nothing in this post should be construed as legal advice.  If you feel that your rights are being violated, you should immediately notify the appropriate authorities and seek legal representation.  Also, you may want to draw attention to the incident—for instance, by reporting it to the Election Protection Coalition at 866-OUR-VOTE, making fellow voters aware of your situation, or contacting members of the press who are covering the election.

42 USC § 1971 - Voting rights
(b) Intimidation, threats, or coercion
No person, whether acting under color of law or otherwise, shall intimidate, threaten, coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any other person for the purpose of interfering with the right of such other person to vote or to vote as he may choose, or of causing such other person to vote for, or not to vote for, any candidate for the office of President, Vice President, presidential elector, Member of the Senate, or Member of the House of Representatives, Delegates or Commissioners from the Territories or possessions, at any general, special, or primary election held solely or in part for the purpose of selecting or electing any such candidate.
42 USC § 1973 - Denial or abridgement of right to vote on account of race or color through voting qualifications or prerequisites; establishment of violation
(a) No voting qualification or prerequisite to voting or standard, practice, or procedure shall be imposed or applied by any State or political subdivision in a manner which results in a denial or abridgement of the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color, or in contravention of the guarantees set forth in section 1973b(f)(2) of this title, as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

(b) A violation of subsection (a) of this section is established if, based on the totality of circumstances, it is shown that the political processes leading to nomination or election in the State or political subdivision are not equally open to participation by members of a class of citizens protected by subsection (a) of this section in that its members have less opportunity than other members of the electorate to participate in the political process and to elect representatives of their choice. The extent to which members of a protected class have been elected to office in the State or political subdivision is one circumstance which may be considered: Provided, That nothing in this section establishes a right to have members of a protected class elected in numbers equal to their proportion in the population.

42 USC § 1973i - Prohibited acts
b) Intimidation, threats, or coercion
No 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, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for urging or aiding any person to vote or attempt to vote, or intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for exercising any powers or duties under section 1973a (a), 1973d,[1] 1973f, 1973g, [1] 1973h, or 1973j (e) of this title.
42 USC § 1973j - Civil and criminal sanctions
(a) Depriving or attempting to deprive persons of secured rights
Whoever shall deprive or attempt to deprive any person of any right secured by section1973, 1973a, 1973b, 1973c, or 1973h of this title or shall violate section 1973i (a) of this title, shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

[. . .]

(c) Conspiring to violate or interfere with secured rights
Whoever conspires to violate the provisions of subsection (a) or (b) of this section, or interferes with any right secured by section 1973, 1973a, 1973b, 1973c, 1973h, or 1973i(a) of this title shall be fined not more than $5,000, or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

42 USC § 1973gg - Findings and purposes
(a) Findings
The Congress finds that—
(1) the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right;
(2) it is the duty of the Federal, State, and local governments to promote the exercise of that right; and
(3) discriminatory and unfair registration laws and procedures can have a direct and damaging effect on voter participation in elections for Federal office and disproportionately harm voter participation by various groups, including racial minorities.
(b) Purposes
The purposes of this subchapter are—
(1) to establish procedures that will increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office;
(2) to make it possible for Federal, State, and local governments to implement this subchapter in a manner that enhances the participation of eligible citizens as voters in elections for Federal office;
(3) to protect the integrity of the electoral process; and
(4) to ensure that accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained.
42 USC § 1973gg–9 - Civil enforcement and private right of action
(a) Attorney General
The Attorney General may bring a civil action in an appropriate district court for such declaratory or injunctive relief as is necessary to carry out this subchapter.
(b) Private right of action
(1) A person who is aggrieved by a violation of this subchapter may provide written notice of the violation to the chief election official of the State involved.
(2) If the violation is not corrected within 90 days after receipt of a notice under paragraph (1), or within 20 days after receipt of the notice if the violation occurred within 120 days before the date of an election for Federal office, the aggrieved person may bring a civil action in an appropriate district court for declaratory or injunctive relief with respect to the violation.
(3) If the violation occurred within 30 days before the date of an election for Federal office, the aggrieved person need not provide notice to the chief election official of the State under paragraph (1) before bringing a civil action under paragraph (2).
(c) Attorney’s fees
In a civil action under this section, the court may allow the prevailing party (other than the United States) reasonable attorney fees, including litigation expenses, and costs.
(d) Relation to other laws
(1) The rights and remedies established by this section are in addition to all other rights and remedies provided by law, and neither the rights and remedies established by this section nor any other provision of this subchapter shall supersede, restrict, or limit the application of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq.).
(2) Nothing in this subchapter authorizes or requires conduct that is prohibited by the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (42 U.S.C. 1973 et seq.).
42 USC § 1973gg–10 - Criminal penalties
A person, including an election official, who in any election for Federal office—
(1) knowingly and willfully intimidates, threatens, or coerces, or attempts to intimidate, threaten, or coerce, any person for—
(A) registering to vote, or voting, or attempting to register or vote;
(B) urging or aiding any person to register to vote, to vote, or to attempt to register or vote; or
(C) exercising any right under this subchapter [i.e., 42 USC § 1973gg];
UPDATE: Of course, there's this too.
42 USC § 1983 - Civil action for deprivation of rights
Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.
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