Fairfield continues to criticize Jaeger over voter ID law
FARGO -- Expired driver's licenses will be acceptable forms of identification at the polls, Secretary of State Al Jaeger wrote in an email to county auditors this week.
FARGO - Expired driver’s licenses will be acceptable forms of identification at the polls, Secretary of State Al Jaeger wrote in an email to county auditors this week.
Jaeger said he sent the email as a clarification to address confusion among county auditors over the state’s new voter ID law, which will be tested in a general election for the first time on Nov. 4.
The move prompted criticism Thursday from Democratic-NPL secretary of state candidate April Fairfield, who said Republican Jaeger’s “reversal” is good for residents but also shows inconsistency in the secretary of state’s office.
Voters who tried using their expired driver’s licenses as ID at the June primary election were turned away in at least one county. In Stutsman County, a 95-year old World War II veteran, Ernest Hubacker, wasn’t allowed to vote for that reason, the Jamestown Sun reported.
“This is a significant victory for the elderly, the disabled, rural citizens and every eligible voter in North Dakota that has been and would have been turned away at the polls,” Fairfield said in a news release.
The voter ID law passed in 2013 requires a North Dakota driver’s license, a non-driver’s ID, a tribal-issued ID, a student ID or a long-term care ID in order to vote.
Jaeger “made an arbitrary and capricious decision that was not supported by the law, to only accept ‘valid’ driver’s licenses and non-driver’s licenses to vote,” Fairfield said.
But Jaeger denied establishing a policy of rejecting expired driver’s licenses. He said the issue was raised at a conference of county auditors on July 17 in Minot and it was decided that expired driver’s licenses would be allowed, as long as the information on the ID was still correct.
Wednesday’s email put the policy in writing in order to clear up any confusion, Jaeger said.
Jaeger said he wasn’t sure if any residents with expired IDs were turned away in the primary. He said had heard of the Ernest Hubacker case, “and that might have been what prompted the conversation in July.”
Jaeger said neither he nor his staff recalled instructing county auditors to reject expired IDs.
Fairfield argued that Jaeger’s $700,000 campaign to educate North Dakotans on the voter ID law proved otherwise.
The campaign, dubbed “Voting in North Dakota: Easy as Pie” uses the rhyme scheme “Voting in ND? Have a valid ID?”
Fairfield said the campaign was “wrong” because an expired – or no longer valid – ID is acceptable.
“You don’t need a valid ID – you need an ID,” Fairfield said Thursday at a news conference in Fargo.
Jaeger had a different interpretation of the word “valid.”
“It’s certainly not valid for driving purposes. … What is valid is that it has the three pieces of information that’s required by state law,” he said, referring to the fact that the expired ID must still have the correct name, address and birth date of the voter.