State legislatures around the country are busy passing election process reforms that make voting more secure, and in North Dakota – the only state that doesn’t require voters to register – a bill that revises the state’s voter ID law passed the House by a big margin.
Lawmakers are again considering changes to the state’s voter ID requirements after laws passed in the 2013 and 2015 were challenged in court. In September, a federal judge ordered the state to provide affidavits to voters who couldn’t provide a valid ID.
HB 1369 eliminates that affidavit provision for voters who don’t present an accepted form of ID and replaces it with a more secure provisional ballot option.
More than 16,000 ballots were cast using affidavits instead of ID the November 2016 election, a 55 percent increase over the 2012 election, and those affidavits are still in the process of being verified long after the ballots have been counted, the elections certified, and officials sworn into office and governing.
There were 5,005 affidavits filed in Cass County alone during the most recent election, according to information provided Thursday by DeAnn Buckhouse, the county’s election coordinator. Of those, 2,964 voters returned the postcard that acknowledged they executed an affidavit, but 86 of them listed a Minnesota residential address. A handful of others listed other states as their address, according to Buckhouse, and 1,837 have not been returned or verified.
The bill also raises the penalty for intentional voter fraud to a Class C felony. Democrat Rep. Mary Schneider called it “mean-spirited” to raise the penalty for voter fraud, though she claimed fraud doesn’t happen so it’s unclear to whom she thinks it’s mean.
But Republican Rep. Chris Olson cited the Cass County data on unverified and problematic affidavits used to cast ballots in last year’s election, adding that 102 affidavits were returned undeliverable and five people said they didn’t execute an affidavit. “If this isn’t a problem I don’t know what is.”