North Dakota voters may have to present identification before they can cast a ballot at the next election. Senate lawmakers Wednesday passed House Bill 1332 by a 30-16 vote, which will eliminate the voter affidavit process that allows a voter to cast a ballot without proof of eligibility. Currently, people who can’t prove residency at the polls can vote by signing an affidavit that says they are a North Dakota resident. The bill will be sent to Gov. Jack Dalrymple for his signature. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, and other lawmakers have been concerned about the current system, arguing it leads to voter fraud. Opponents of the proposal raised concerns that requiring identification will make it difficult for elderly people and college students to obtain an ID because they are physically unable to or do not have a permanent residence to obtain one.
The bill requires the Department of Transportation to provide free nondriver identification to anyone without a driver’s license — carrying a price tag of about $12,000 and a loss of about $245,000 in revenues in the upcoming biennium.
“Allowing them to have an ID at no cost increases access to the ballot and most certainly protects the integrity of that ballot,” said Sen. Dick Dever, R-Bismarck.
Opponents of the measure also said the change was not needed.
During the 2012 election, 10,519 affidavits were signed, 379 were returned to the county auditor as unverifiable, and nine are now being prosecuted as fraudulent, all out of a total of 325,000 votes.
From 2000 to 2010, only one case of voter fraud was criminally prosecuted in the state, said Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks.