Identified cases of voter fraud are rare in North Dakota, but weaknesses in the election system and lack of prosecution does leave room for getting away with it, according to information from the North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office. “While some individuals argue that there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud, there are others who argue the exact opposite. Regardless, the truth is that under the current forms of election administration, it is not possible to establish whether widespread voter fraud does or does not exist because it is difficult to determine either way when proof is not required of voters when registering or prior to voting,” Secretary of State Al Jaeger wrote to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. When cases are suspected, he wrote, “This office has often been informed the State’s Attorneys have cases of ‘greater consequence’ on which to focus. Unfortunately, there can be no convictions when there is no will to prosecute.”
Jaeger’s comments came in response to a series of questions submitted by the Advisory Commission on Election Integrity. Created by President Donald Trump, the commission made a controversial request to states for voter information, which many states have refused to provide. Jaeger sent a letter to the commission Sept. 5, stating North Dakota is unable to provide the information because it does not register voters and state law allows information in the Central Voter File to only be shared with certain individuals or groups and for a specific limited purpose. However, Jaeger provided information about election practices that spoke of the difficulty in preventing fraud.
In 2013, North Dakota began requiring voters to show a driver’s license or other non-driver’s ID at the polls. Jaeger said the decision was prompted by nine suspected instances of double voting in the 2012 general election, which none of the state’s attorneys in those counties chose to prosecute. In 2016, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction, stating North Dakota’s law lacked a “fail safe” option for those without an ID. As a result, the state went back to using a voter’s affidavit, which allows people to cast ballots after signing oaths of their qualifications to vote.