GRAND FORKS, N.D.-University of North Dakota student leaders are trying to get the word out to their classmates about North Dakota's voter identification requirements, which have changed several times over the past few years with legislative revisions and a more recent legal challenge.
"There has been confusion," UND Student Body President Brandon Beyer said.
Beyer sent out an email to UND students last week with information from the Secretary of State's office in an effort to alert students about what they need to do in order to vote.
"I just shot them a couple of links and just said, 'Hey, if guys have any questions, this pretty much addresses everything,'" he said.
The North Dakota University System website lays out several options for college students, including voting by absentee ballot in their home district. But it said students choosing that option should have requested their ballot before Oct. 24, given the number of steps involved in that process.
Second, students could vote at the polling station associated with their university residential address using a valid ID that contains that address. Valid forms of ID for in-person voting are a current driver's license or nondriver's identification card, a tribal government-issued ID, a long-term care certificate and a voter's affidavit, according to the Secretary of State's office.
"Student IDs do not have an address and thus are not valid for this purpose," the University System said. "The ID must have an address within the district where the student is trying to vote."
The voter's affidavit option was added this year during the course of a lawsuit challenging the state's voter ID laws. The state Legislature voted to eliminate affidavits in 2013, a change that was part of a lawsuit brought by several tribal members.
In September, U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland ordered North Dakota to offer affidavits to voters who cannot produce a valid form of ID.
On Wednesday morning, the NDUS website said students must present an ID with a name, address and date of birth to vote by affidavit. However, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said people who execute a voter's affidavit "will not be required to show or provide another form of ID."
Silrum said his office would reach out to the University System to "offer some edits" on its webpage about voter ID, and by Wednesday afternoon, the page was updated to show students wouldn't need a valid ID to vote by affidavit.
"If a student wants to vote at a polling station at their school address but cannot present valid identification with that address, they can still vote by swearing a voter's affidavit," the NDUS website said. "By signing the voter's affidavit, the individual is self-certifying who they are, their residential address in North Dakota, that they have resided at that address for the 30 days immediately prior to the election, their date of birth and that they are a citizen of the United States."
Silrum previously said county auditors will send a postcard verification to people who voted by affidavit.
The University System website also warned earlier Wednesday "some private scholarships and grants are designated for residents of a particular place" and if "a student has one of these scholarships or grants, they may want to check with the administrator of the program to see if their award could be affected by completing a residency affidavit using their school address."
On that point, Silrum said they had previously provided that information to students, "but an attorney in the state told us that he would take us to court for voter intimidation practices, so we removed it."
He said people have complained they wouldn't have voted in North Dakota had they known they wouldn't receive oil dividend checks from the state of Alaska.
Asked if he was aware of any instances of college scholarships being affected by someone voting in North Dakota, Silrum said he couldn't offer specific examples, "but I can tell you that county auditors have reported to us that voters have been upset about this happening in the past."
By Wednesday afternoon, the NDUS page did not include references to how scholarships might be affected by filling out a voter's affidavit.
North Dakota Rep. Kylie Oversen, a Democrat who is running for re-election in Grand Forks' District 42, which covers UND and nearby neighborhoods, said she has heard from students who weren't even sure they could vote here at all. They were apparently unaware North Dakota is the only state without voter registration.
"There's definitely a need for some education at that level, just that you don't have to register, you don't have to have your ID, you can just show up and vote," Oversen said.
Jake Blum, one of the Republican House candidates running in District 42, said he gets occasional questions from people about what they need to vote.
"I'd say most people at this point, from my perspective, seem to have a good grasp on what they need to bring," he said.
To view North Dakota University System information about voter identification, go to " target="_blank">www.ndus.edu/students/student-voting-information.