The North Dakota Secretary of State’s Office plans to offer affidavits to voters who don’t bring a valid identification to the polls in November, although a legal battle over the state’s voter ID laws is still ongoing. The move follows a ruling from a federal judge that prevented the state from implementing its current voter ID laws without also using some kind of “fail-safe” provision, such as an affidavit. The Aug. 1 order granting a preliminary injunction stemmed from a lawsuit brought against Secretary of State Al Jaeger by seven members of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa who argued the North Dakota’s laws disproportionately burden Native Americans. The lawsuit focused on changes made by the Republican-controlled Legislature in 2013 and 2015. The 2013 change eliminated the option for voters who didn’t provide an ID to use an affidavit to swear, under penalty of perjury, that he or she was a qualified elector in a particular precinct.
Roughly a week after U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland’s order, Jaeger said reverting back to the pre-2013 law was “not as easy as the judge may have made it sound in his ruling.” Jim Silrum, the deputy secretary of state, said Monday, Sept. 19, the identification requirements that came with the recent law changes are still in effect, but his office has added the voter affidavit option to comply with Hovland’s order.
But in late August, the plaintiffs submitted a proposed order based on the voter ID laws that were in place during the 2012 election, restoring previously recognized forms of ID. They argued the state also provided “no real justification” for excluding a provision to allow poll workers to verify a voter’s eligibility in its proposed order.