John Erickson breezed into downtown Bismarck’s government building, flashed his ID and picked up a primary ballot. A few minutes later, the early voting ballot complete, Erickson traded pleasantries with friends and familiar poll workers and headed back to tend the cows and crops on his farm north of the state’s capital city. Erickson, 86, the proud non-owner of a neither a television nor computer, relishes the fact that he has never had to register to vote in his native state. “I like life simple,” he said. In an era when hacking has raised concerns about the security of America’s elections and President Donald Trump rages about voter fraud, North Dakota stands out as the only state that doesn’t require voter registration. Residents and most state and local election officials say the low-tech system in use for Tuesday’s primary, as it has been for generations, works just fine.
“Honestly, if other states were to look at what we do and allow their paradigms to shift, I think they would say North Dakota has it right,” Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said. “There are no pre-election hoops to jump through and no extra burdens that have been put in place.”
Proponents say the state’s unusual system is no more vulnerable to fraud or abuse than those requiring a registration process. North Dakota does require a valid ID to vote.
Only one accusation of fraud — a man charged with voting in two counties in the 2016 election — has been prosecuted in the past several decades, Silrum said.