The American Civil Liberties Union is urging Secretary of State Al Jaeger to expand what it calls his “exceedingly narrow” interpretation of North Dakota’s new voter ID law to allow voters to use more forms of identification, warning the law could disenfranchise Native American and disabled voters, among others. Jaeger said Monday he received the letter from the ACLU — as well as a supporting letter from the Fargo-based nonprofit Freedom Resource Center for Independent Living — on Friday and was still reviewing it to develop a response, adding, “I can just go by what the law allows. As to whether we can do anything or not, that remains to be seen,” he said.
Republican lawmakers passed a bill last year that requires voters to bring an acceptable form of ID showing their current address and birth date to the polls, saying it would help eliminate voter fraud. North Dakota is the only state without voter registration.
The five valid forms of voter ID are a North Dakota driver’s license, a non-driver’s ID, a tribal-issued ID, a student ID certificate and a long-term care ID certificate. The change also removed the option of voting by affidavit.
Heather Smith, executive director of the ACLU for North Dakota and South Dakota, said the letter to Jaeger was prompted in part by reports from voters who were turned away from the polls because of the new ID requirements during the June 10 statewide election and a March local election in Fargo.