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Jaeger touts ‘Easy as Pie’ voter education campaign: Fairfield afraid law will disenfranchise voters

BISMARCK — North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said few people tried to vote in the recent primary election without the proper identification.

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He credited that fact to the “Easy as Pie” voter education campaign that included television and cable spots, commercial and tribal radio advertisements, and ads in every daily and weekly newspaper and magazine in the state.

At a news conference Thursday, Jaeger spoke about the advertising campaign and the public reaction to new voter ID laws, including a requirement that identification includes a current street address.

Complete statistics were not provided, but Jaeger said the 30 counties responding to an Association of Counties poll reported 22 voters who had not updated their identification with their current address and 66 who did not have acceptable forms of ID. Of those 66, 16 returned to the polling place with the proper ID.

“The numbers of problems were higher with tribal IDs, but that largely traces to one situation,” he said. “The Turtle Mountain tribal government has passed a resolution providing tribal ID cards that include the address. We’re working with the Spirit Lake tribe as well.”

Previously, voters could sign an affidavit allowing them to vote if their ID did not include a street address or they had moved and the ID did not reflect the current address. This was referred to as self-certifying.

The 2013 North Dakota Legislature changed the law to require that voters present identification that includes a current street address.

This concerns April Fairfield, the Democratic challenger for North Dakota secretary of state.

“My concern is the new law will restrict and disenfranchise voters,” she said. “It is disenfranchising people within the tribes and the elderly, and the current secretary of state is refusing to acknowledge the problem.”

Jaeger said 100 percent of potential voters are covered by the five forms of identification that are valid at the polling place:

- A driver’s license.

- A non-driver’s identification card.

- A tribal government-issued identification card that includes a street address.

- A student identification card from a North Dakota college or university.

- A long-term care identification certificate.

Jaeger said that the number of nondriver’s identification cards issued in North Dakota had increased but that it could not be confirmed that this was a result of the new voter identification law. The identification cards are available for free from the North Dakota Department of Transportation.

Jaeger said limiting the valid forms of ID to five makes it easier for people to understand.

“This isn’t difficult,” he said. “We want the message to be simple and clear.”

He said expanding the number of valid forms of identification would complicate the process.

“There has been talk of adding (North Dakota) Game and Fish licenses and concealed carry permits to the valid forms of identification,” he said. “Any person carrying one of those licenses already had to have a valid identification to get that license.”

Jaeger reminded voters that the November general election is less than 120 days away.

“My appeal is to every organization,” he said. “They need to educate their members about what is required to vote.”