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.”
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider and Rep. Corey Mock, the 2010 Democratic candidate for secretary of state, said this week they planned on introducing legislation allowing for people without sufficient ID to vote with a provisional ballot. Both lawmakers represent District 42, which includes the area around UND. Some of the identification problems that arose on Election Day had to do with students not having their current address on their IDs.
Provisional ballots would not count until voters have proved they are eligible voters for a particular precinct. A vote cast using an affidavit was automatically counted, Schneider said.
It remains to be seen what, if any, support either proposal will have in the upcoming session that begins Jan. 6. Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner, a Dickinson Republican, said he’s reserving judgment until he learns more about what happened on Election Day. “If we have to change the law, then we will have to change the law,” he said. “To me, it’s not acceptable that we would have people who are legitimate legal voters not be able to vote.”