North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said last week it’s too early to say what forms of identification will be accepted for voting in November’s election, but a plan is being developed after a federal judge recently ruled against the state’s new voter ID laws. On Aug. 1, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland issued a preliminary injunction requested by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who sued Jaeger in January, arguing the voter ID laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2013 and 2015 were unconstitutional and disenfranchised tribal members. Jaeger, a Republican, said “the process of reverting back to the pre-2013 law is not as easy as the judge may have made it sound in his ruling.” He said he wasn’t able to say yet which IDs will be accepted at the polls come November. However, the state will comply with Hovland’s order, Jaeger said.
“There are many unanswered questions and laws that were changed beginning in 2013 that are outside of the specific section of law that the judge cited in his ruling,” Jaeger said in an email. “They all impact our ability to conduct the election in 2016 using pre-2013 laws.”
Jaeger said his office has met with Republican Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and is in the process of developing a plan, which he hopes will be completed by Friday.
“We have a lot of work to do to make sure what we will be doing is the best and right way under the circumstances while maintaining the high standards of election administration,” Jaeger said, pointing to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts study that found North Dakota was the top state for election administration in the 2014 cycle, the fourth straight time the state has earned the top spot. “We must have a uniform ID process for all voters whether they vote at the polls or by mail or absentee, and that is challenging because of the many law changes that have been made,” Jaeger added.