Support for voter registration was weak Thursday during a meeting of the interim Judiciary Committee, whose members, tasked with studying the issue, were more concerned with verifying residency. North Dakota is the sole state without voter registration, which was eliminated in 1951. If it were implemented, the process would subject the state to a series of federal reporting requirements from which it is now exempt, according to Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum.
The North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office and Grand Forks Democratic lawmakers are drafting separate bills to tweak the state’s voter identification law. The proposed legislation comes after reports of people being turned away from the polls on Election Day due to identification problems. This year marked the first major election since North Dakota passed a law in 2013 that removed the option to sign an affidavit, allowing voters who didn’t have proper ID to swear under the penalty of law that they are eligible to vote. Jim Silrum, deputy secretary of state, said Friday a proposed bill would allow someone with an acceptable North Dakota ID that doesn’t have an up-to-date address to use things like a bank statement, bill or U.S. Postal Service change of address form dated 30 days prior to the election to show a current address. “The legislation being drafted is trying to provide an option for those individuals that have not (updated their identification), that they can fall back on something else,” Secretary of State Al Jaeger said. “This is what we heard (and) this is how we’re trying to respond to address those situations.”
Officials with the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office said the cause of an election night technical problem with the state’s election results page has been fixed. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said safeguards have also been put in place to ensure any similar problems don’t occur during the Nov. 4 general election. To prevent a repeat of the primary election, a load test of the department’s site will be conducted sometime prior to the November election. Jaeger said testing of the state election website was done prior to the 2012 general election, which produced the largest voter turnout in state history. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said the problem was a relatively minor one discovered in the system. “It was a query that was running inefficiently,” Silrum said. “I can’t blame it on Information Technology Department; I can’t blame it on our vendor.”
The Walsh County election canvassing board spent more than seven hours Tuesday without successfully finding the source of a 301-vote discrepancy in the Nov. 6 general election. That is, there were 4,603 people that voted, but the tally came to 4,904 votes. The board was still working, with no decision, late Tuesday evening. It’s possible, but officials believe unlikely, that one Walsh County Commission seat may hang in the balance.
The Republican primary race in District 28 will have to go to an automatic recount to see who will run for the North Dakota House of Representatives, according to the State Canvassing Board. Jim Silrum, North Dakota deputy secretary of state, said if the difference in vote totals between two candidates is less than 1 percent of the highest vote cast for a candidate for that office, an automatic recount is required. “Almost every election promotes the possibility of a recount, especially in small cities for races like city offices,” Silrum said. “However, the fact that it’s happening in a legislative district primary is certainly not unprecedented.” Ballots cast in six counties — Dickey, McIntosh, LaMoure, Logan, Burleigh and Emmons — will now be recounted beginning Thursday at 9 a.m. and continuing until Monday at 2 p.m.