North Dakota

Articles about voting issues in North Dakota.

North Dakota: After high turnout in pandemic primary, should mail-only voting be North Dakota’s new normal? | Adam Willis/The Dickinson Press

Roughly 158,000 North Dakotans voted in the recent June election, a strong turnout in a historic primary that relied solely on mail-in ballots. Vote-by-mail surged to the fore of national politics this primary season as the coronavirus pandemic had state governments scrambling to restructure their election systems. The outcomes were disastrous in several states, but North Dakota’s move to a completely vote-by-mail election stands out as a relative success. Not only did vote-by-mail reduce the risks for COVID-19 transmission in North Dakota, it also drew some of the highest voter turnout in state history. Among North Dakota primary elections, only 2012 saw higher numbers, with over 175,000 ballots cast. This month’s turnout prompts the question: Should North Dakota join a small group of states that vote exclusively by mail? Nationally, there are several kinds of vote-by-mail systems. Five states, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Hawaii and Colorado, have switched to universal vote-by-mail elections in which the government mails ballots to every registered voter. California recently passed its Voter Choice Act, which gives counties the option to mail ballots to voters while maintaining in-person polls. North Dakota’s mail-in system requires a few more steps. Here, voters must fill out a ballot application to receive their mail-in ballot, and the decision to automatically mail applications to voters is made on a county-by-county level. Read More

North Dakota: Voter participation could hit all-time high among statewide June elections | David Olson/Grand Forks Herald

The Tuesday, June 9 election in North Dakota could historically rank among the top June elections when it comes to voter participation, county and state election officials said Monday. Tuesday’s vote — which is being conducted solely with mail-in ballots — is a primary election for state races and a general election when it comes to things like city and school board races. As of Monday afternoon, about 37,000 ballots had been mailed to Cass County voters and, of those, about 23,000 had been completed and returned to Cass County election officials. That put the voting on pace to surpass the 23,950 ballots cast during a June election in 2006, which stands as a high-water mark for June elections, according to DeAnn Buckhouse, election coordinator for Cass County. It is the first time Cass County has used mail-only voting. To be eligible for counting, Buckhouse said completed ballots returned by mail must be postmarked no later than June 8. Read More

North Dakota: Judge grants order requiring notice, remedy process for mail-in ballots rejected for signature issues | David Olson/Grand Forks Herald

A federal judge has granted an injunction in a suit that sought protections for mail-in ballots that get rejected for signature issues. The injunction, granted Wednesday, June 3, bars North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger and other election officials from rejecting any mail-in ballot on the basis of a “signature mismatch” without having in place adequate notice and remedy procedures. The order is in place for the primary election set for Tuesday, June 9, and may apply to the general election on Nov. 3. The injunction was requested by the League of Women Voters of North Dakota and other plaintiffs, who argued that the state’s election process does not notify voters when their ballot is rejected due to a technical error such as a signature mismatch and that there is no method for voters to fix such situations. Read More

North Dakota: All eligible voters to receive ballots by mail for June 9 primary | The Dickinson Press

North Dakota voters will be receiving their ballots by mail for the June 9 primary election, state officials announced Thursday, April 23. County commissions in all of the 53 counties have authorized vote by mail for the election as a measure to reduce the public’s risk of exposure to COVID-19, according to a release from the North Dakota Association of Counties. On March 26, Gov. Doug Burgum signed an executive order encouraging counties to use Vote by Mail for the June 9 election. The executive order suspends the requirement for counties to have at least one physical polling location. In response, every county has decided to administer the primary election by vote by mail only, and reservation counties have been working with tribal governments on the process, the release said.  No polling locations will be open for the primary election and all ballots will be issued through the mail. Read More

North Dakota: Secretary of State hopes people participate in June mail-in election | Karassa Stinchcomb/KX News

Because of the coronavirus, this June’s election will be unlike any other in our state’s history. Counties are opting to conduct the election by mail with no physical polling places. “Polling locations will not be open because of the concern of the spread of the virus,” said Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Jaeger said preparations to have a wide-scale mail-in election began in March. 600,000 residents will receive voting applications by the end of this month. If you don’t receive that application form by May 1, contact your auditor as soon as possible. “Any individual who wants to vote in that election, we want to make sure that they have that ballot and are able to mark that ballot and to cast their vote,” said Jaeger. Read More

North Dakota: Counties can hold June election via mail-in ballots only | Andrea Johnson/Minot Daily News

Gov. Doug Burgum issued an executive order Thursday that will enable counties to conduct the June 9 election by mail-in ballot only if they choose to do so. The order eliminates a requirement that counties maintain a physical polling location. Burgum announced at his daily briefing that the order is intended to protect the right of North Dakotans to vote and also to protect polling workers and voters from coronavirus if the pandemic is still a concern come June. Burgum also announced guidance that is intended to shore up child care providers in the state. Child care providers will be required to take extra steps to protect against the spread of the virus, such as making sure that there are no more than 10 people, including both adults and children, in a room at one time and staggering use of common areas to keep too many people from being in an area at once. Providers would also be required to limit access to the facility as much as possible and ask families questions about how they are feeling before a child is able to come into the facility. Read More

North Dakota: New electronic pollbooks set to go out to North Dakota counties | Jack Dura/Bismarck Tribune

raining sessions on new electronic pollbooks are planned throughout the next week and a half for North Dakota election officials. The new devices — 990 of them — will be distributed to North Dakota’s 53 counties for use at polling locations after being delivered to the state in February. Pollbooks are records of voters of a precinct. The devices, which resemble an iPad, will speed up what has been a paper process for most counties in checking voters and add an element of security, according to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger. “One of the things when it comes to election integrity is that once you come in and show your ID, that automatically goes back into our central voter file and so if you attempted to vote, let’s say, in Minot or drive up to Killdeer or some other place, they would know that you voted already,” Jaeger said Monday. North Dakota has no voter registration, but maintains a central voter file which is essentially a database of who has voted. Read More

North Dakota: New ES&S voting equipment replaces 15-year-old machines | Grand Forks Herald

Grand Forks County has received most of its new election equipment, which replaces voting machines that are about 15 years old. The Legislature authorized $8.2 million for the new machines to add to the $3 million in federal funds doled out to assist in the purchase. According to County Auditor Debbie Nelson, the equipment arrived two weeks ago and includes 40 new optical scanners, 40 new ExpressVote machines, which are unassisted voting machines, and a new central count machine was received as well. Electronic poll books have yet to arrive. The optical scanners are part of the vote counting process, according to Nelson. m“When people mark their ballot, they bring it over to the scanner to be counted,” she said. The voting machines, which are used to mark ballots, can be used by anyone. However, if any voters have difficulty seeing a ballot, they have the option of having it read to them. The central count machine is a faster ballot counting machine. Read More

North Dakota: New election equipment going out to counties | Jack Dura/Bismarck Tribune

Burleigh County has received new election equipment being distributed to North Dakota counties over the next few weeks by state election officials. Auditor/Treasurer Kevin Glatt said the county on Monday received 50 ballot scanners, 50 accessibility devices for voters who may have difficulty marking ballots and one central scanner for tabulating absentee ballots. The equipment vendor is now testing the devices after delivery before formal training in September.  “We’re excited that we have them,” Glatt said. Morton County Auditor Dawn Rhone said she expects the new machines, including 18 ballot scanners, this week, likely on Thursday after the old machines are taken away Wednesday from the courthouse in Mandan. The secretary of state’s office in 2015 pressed the Legislature for new election equipment, but funding priorities didn’t favor the request, especially during deep budget cuts in 2017. Read More

North Dakota: New voting machines being ‘put through the paces’ | Prairie Public Broadcasting

New voting machines for North Dakota are set up in a room at the Capitol. “We’re putting them through the paces, said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. “We want to make sure they can handle our open primary, and any election we would throw at it.” It is the Secretary of State’s job to certify the new devices, and de-certify the devices that are no longer used. Silrum said the contract to finalize the purchase of the new devices will likely be finished by the end of the week, and the plan is to have all the devices in Bismarck by the end of July. After that, county election officials will be trained on them. Read More

North Dakota: Legislature funds new election equipment | Bismarck Tribune

North Dakota’s chief elections official hopes to have new equipment at the polls for the 2020 contests after state lawmakers approved $12 million for the devices. Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Wednesday the money will be used to purchase new ballot scanners and electronic poll books, which serve as voter records at individual precincts, across the state. The $12 million approved by lawmakers includes $3 million of federal funding. Jaeger, a Republican, said North Dakotans will still mark a paper ballot but new equipment will be used to count their votes. County election officials have warned about equipment failures for several years, but the 2017 Legislature rejected funding while the state tightened its belt. Read More

North Dakota: GOP-led Senate kills Dem plan for redistricting panel | Associated Press

The Republican-led Senate has killed a Democrat measure for an appointed non-partisan commission to draw a new map for North Dakota’s legislative districts. The Senate defeated the bill 36-10, along party lines on Monday. The measure was sponsored by Democratic legislative leaders. North Dakota now has 47 legislative districts, each of which is represented by a senator and two House members. Read More

North Dakota: House shoots down student IDs for voting | Grand Forks Herald

The North Dakota House rejected a bill backed by Democratic lawmakers on Thursday, Jan. 31, that sought to allow the state’s college students to use university-issued identification to vote. House Bill 1479 would have required colleges and universities to provide students with an identification card that could be scanned by a polling clerk to access their address in the state’s central voter file. It failed in a 78-13 vote that almost entirely fell along party lines. Rep. Matt Eidson, D-Grand Forks, was the bill’s primary sponsor.

Minot Republican Rep. Scott Louser noted the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to North Dakota’s voter ID law last year. The state’s laws have been the subject of lawsuits that argue they disproportionately burden Native Americans.

State law requires a North Dakota driver’s license, a nondriver’s ID card, a tribal ID or a long-term care certificate to vote at the polls. It allows voters to use supplemental documentation, such as a utility bill or bank statement, to prove their eligibility.

Source: North Dakota House shoots down student IDs for voting | Grand Forks Herald.

North Dakota: Attorney General asks judge to dismiss tribe’s voter ID lawsuit | Associated Press

North Dakota has asked a federal judge to dismiss a Native American tribe’s lawsuit challenging the state’s voter identification requirements, saying in part that tribal members named in the complaint weren’t impeded from voting on Election Day. The attorney general’s office in a Monday filing also argued that the state is immune from such lawsuits in U.S. District Court and that the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe doesn’t have standing to sue for several reasons, including that it’s unclear how the tribe might be affected by the inability of any members to vote. Even if that were clear, attorneys said, the tribe “is not representing the interests of all of its members, merely a select few.” Read More

North Dakota: Few voters verify ID under North Dakota’s new ‘set aside’ ballot system | Grand Forks Herald

Less than a fifth of North Dakotans who marked a “set aside” ballot during last week’s midterm election followed up with a valid identification and had their vote counted, a state election official said Friday, Nov. 16. Under state law, voters who don’t have sufficient identification on Election Day may mark a ballot that’s separated from the rest. If a voter returns with an adequate ID within six days, the ballot would be included in the tally. The new procedure was introduced in the latest iteration of North Dakota’s voter ID law, which passed the Republican-controlled Legislature and was signed by Gov. Doug Burgum in 2017. Across the state, 1,110 voters marked a set aside ballot, Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said. Only 141 of them, or 13 percent, returned to verify their ID, but several counties had not yet reported their figures to state officials by 8 a.m. Friday. At most, 219 people returned to verify their ID. Read More

North Dakota: Federal judge rejects lawsuit, lets North Dakota disenfranchise Native American voters | Salon

federal judge has rejected a North Dakota tribe’s emergency motion to stop a voter ID law that it argued disproportionately affects Native Americans in Tuesday’s midterm elections. “The federal courts are unanimous in their judgment that it is highly important to preserve the status quo when elections are fast approaching,” U.S. District Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in his order. The judge said the lawsuit by the Spirit Lake Tribe gives “great cause for concern” and will need a “a detailed response from the Secretary of State as this case proceeds,” but decided that “a further injunction on the eve of the election will create as much confusion as it will alleviate, and is foreclosed by precedent which is hesitant to permit ‘eleventh-hour changes to election laws.’” The Spirit Lake Tribe sued to block the state from enforcing a voter ID law that they argued would disenfranchise hundreds if not thousands of Native Americans ahead of next week’s elections. The law requires all voters to present an ID with their street address, but many Native Americans who live on reservations do not have traditional street addresses and rely on post office box addresses. Read More

North Dakota: Native Americans Fight for the Right to Vote in North Dakota | The Intercept

To find Honorata Defender’s home on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, mention her name to whoever you can find walking down the main street of her tiny town. They’ll tell you to turn when you get to the powwow grounds and to take the paved road, rather than the gravel one. Drive until you see a hill, and look for her car. Her house has no number on it, and mail is not delivered there; it goes to a P.O. box instead. As Defender put it, “We’ve never believed that a person can own land; it’s the land that owns us.” She added, “The concept of an address wasn’t a big deal.” Defender was working at her job as a reporter for the Corson/Sioux County News-Messenger — the local paper that covers Standing Rock, including one of the key North Dakota counties that voted Democrat in 2012’s Senate election — when she learned that the U.S. Supreme Court had upheld North Dakota’s voter ID law. The law will require each voter to present identification that displays a residential address, a major barrier for tribal members, since thousands of Native voters don’t use a home address. Defender’s home is on the South Dakota side of Standing Rock, but it is typical of the communities throughout the reservation. Read More

North Dakota: Native Americans Try to Turn an ID Law to Their Advantage | The New York Times

Nobody in the squat yellow house serving as the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s get-out-the-vote headquarters knew its address. It was on Red Tail Hawk Avenue; they knew that much. But the number was anyone’s guess. Phyllis Young, a longtime tribal activist leading the voter-outreach effort, said it had fallen off the side of the house at some point. Her own home has a number only because she added one with permanent marker. This is normal on Native American reservations. Buildings lack numbers; streets lack signs. Even when a house has an address in official records, residents don’t necessarily know what it is. “We know our communities based off our communities,” said Danielle Ta’Sheena Finn, a Standing Rock spokeswoman and tribal judge. “We know, ‘Hey, that’s so-and-so’s house; you go two houses down and that’s the correct place you need to be.’” Read More

North Dakota: Voter ID Law Could Stop Native Americans From Voting in Key Senate Race | Newsweek

Native American residents of North Dakota have been left scrambling to meet a controversial voter ID requirement that could render many ineligible to vote in the upcoming November mid-term elections. Earlier this month, the Supreme Court declined to overturn the GOP-backed voter law, which requires North Dakotans to show identification with their current street address. As many Native American reservations do not use physical street addresses, the law makes it difficult for thousands of people to cast their ballots. While Native American residents do often use PO boxes as mailing addresses, PO boxes do not qualify as proof of residency under the voter ID law. As a result, many voters will have to make the effort to obtain identification or documents, such as a tribal voting letter issued by tribal officials, that provide proof of a residential address. Read More

North Dakota: Tribes scramble to meet voter ID requirements in North Dakota | CBS

Locating a house isn’t easy on the isolated and impoverished Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota, and that’s making it more difficult for residents and their counterparts on other reservations in the state to vote this election. To cast a ballot, they need identification with a provable street address — something that isn’t important to the 19,000 people who live on the remote 72-square-mile block of land where most streets have no signs. In their culture, they’ve never needed them. Tribal activist Wes Davis, 37, an official at the local community college and a lifelong reservation resident, describes where he lives this way — to the west of a gas station on the east side of town, behind the high school and across the road from another store. Read More