Weather Forecast


New voter ID law causes few troubles at polls

FARGO — North Dakota’s first election with a new voter identification law in place went smoothly, state and local election officials say, but not without a few hiccups.

In Cass County, just a handful of voters weren’t allowed to vote on Tuesday because their addresses were out of date, election coordinator DeAnn Buckhouse said.

Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said a few would-be voters on the Spirit Lake Reservation were turned away from polls because their tribal IDs did not meet the voting requirements of the law passed in 2013 – post office boxes don’t satisfy the residential address requirement.

Republican lawmakers passed a bill last year that requires voters to bring an acceptable form of ID showing their current address and birth date to the polls, saying it would help eliminate voter fraud. The change took away voters’ option of signing an affidavit on the back of the ballot swearing their eligibility to vote.

Other than on Spirit Lake Reservation, Silrum said his office heard few complaints after reaching out to county auditors the day after Tuesday’s primary election. He said the state is working with the tribal chairman to iron out issues with tribal IDs that list post office boxes as an address.

The state launched a campaign in the spring to educate voters about the new voting requirements. Silrum said the absence of widespread issues was proof North Dakotans got the message.

“That being said, we knew going into this that well over 90 percent of all people in North Dakota already possess the necessary form of ID needed,” he added.

In Cass County, Buckhouse said her office fielded just a few phone calls from angry residents who were turned away from the polls. She said she knew of just one or two voters who weren’t allowed to vote, due to having an out-of-date address from another city. The remainder, Buckhouse said, were eligible to vote at another polling place.

Three University of North Dakota students weren’t allowed to vote because they lacked the proper identification, Laura Munski, an elections inspector polling station inside the Gorecki Alumni Center on the UND campus, told the Grand Forks Herald.

Buckhouse chalked up Tuesday night’s issues to normal election woes.

“I don’t care if it’s a new law or an existing law. You always have those few people who don’t have what they need,” she said.

Kyle Potter
Kyle Potter is an enterprise reporter at the Forum. He came to Fargo-Moorhead in May 2013 after stints at the Associated Press, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Minnesota Daily. 
(701) 241-5502