NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — United States Attorney Jennifer Klemetsrud Puhl announced Monday that Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) Rick L. Volk will lead the efforts of the United States Attorney’s Office in connection with the Justice Department’s nationwide Election Day Program for the upcoming November 8 general election.

According to a news release, AUSA Volk has been appointed to serve as the District Election Officer (DEO) for the District of North Dakota and in that capacity is responsible for overseeing the District’s handling of election day complaints of voting rights concerns, threats of violence to election officials or staff, and election fraud, in consultation with Justice Department Headquarters in Washington.

The United States Attorney Puhl said, “Every citizen must be able to vote without interference or discrimination and to have that vote counted in a fair and free election. Similarly, election officials and staff must be able to serve without being subject to unlawful threats of violence. The Department of Justice will always work tirelessly to protect the integrity of the election process.”

The Department of Justice has an important role in deterring and combatting discrimination and intimidation at the polls, threats of violence directed at election officials and poll workers, and election fraud.

The Department will address these violations wherever they occur.

The Department’s longstanding Election Day Program furthers these goals and also seeks to ensure public confidence in the electoral process by providing local points of contact within the Department for the public to report possible federal election law violations.

Federal law protects against such crimes as threatening violence against election officials or staff, intimidating or bribing voters, buying and selling votes, impersonating voters, altering vote tallies, stuffing ballot boxes, and marking ballots for voters against their wishes or without their input.

It also contains special protections for the rights of voters and provides that they can vote free from interference, including intimidation, and other acts designed to prevent or discourage people from voting or voting for the candidate of their choice.

The Voting Rights Act protects the right of voters to mark their own ballot or to be assisted by a person of their choice (where voters need assistance because of disability or inability to read or write in English).

United States Attorney Puhl stated that: “We all just ensure that those who are entitled to vote can exercise that right if they choose and that those who seek to interfere with that right are brought to justice. In order to respond to complaints of voting rights concerns and election fraud during the upcoming election, and to ensure that such complaints are directed to the appropriate authorities, AUSA/DEO Volk will be on duty in this District while the polls are open. He can be reached by the public at the following telephone number: (701) 530-2420.”

In addition, the FBI will have special agents available in each field office and resident agency throughout the country to receive allegations of election fraud and other election abuses on election day.

The local FBI Field Office can be reached by the public in North Dakota at (701) 223-2875 or the FBI Field Office in Minneapolis, MN at (763) 569-8000.

Complaints about possible violations of the federal voting rights laws can be made directly to the Civil Rights Division in Washington, DC by phone at (800) 253-3931 or by a complaint form on their website.

Please note, however, in the case of a crime of violence or intimidation, please call 911 immediately and before contacting federal authorities.

State and local police have primary jurisdiction over polling places and almost always have faster reaction capacity in an emergency.