Medora voters must register to vote in N.D.Attention Medora residents: By the time you read this article, you will have less than 12 hours to be eligible to vote for city elections.
By: April Baumgarten, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Attention Medora residents: By the time you read this article, you will have less than 12 hours to be eligible to vote for city elections.
Medora is the only city in North Dakota that requires its residents to register. If they don’t register, they don’t vote — no way around it.
Voter hopefuls must fill out a form, get it notarized and hand it in to the Medora City Auditor’s Office by 5 p.m. today to register to vote for city elections, according to a public notice from the city auditor.
Voter registration in Medora was adopted in the early 1990s due to seasonal workers voting in the June elections, Mayor Doug Ellison said.
“It’s up to the municipality to initiate (voter registration) or not, but Medora decided to do it back then just to avoid a repetition of this disputed election,” he said.
North Dakota is the only state in the U.S. that doesn’t require residents to register to vote, but cities may require voter registration for municipal elections, said Al Jaeger, North Dakota secretary of state.
Voters must prove they are a U.S. citizen and be at least 18 years old on the day of election to vote in North Dakota. They must also live in the state for 30 days.
Voting fraud is a Class B misdemeanor and carries a penalty of up to $1,000 and 30 days in jail, according to city ordinance.
Voters can register up to 29 days before the election on June 12, according a Medora ordinance, putting the deadline on May 14. However, the state requires absentee ballots to be available to residents at least 40 days ahead of voting, Jaeger said, forcing the registration to today.
City Auditor Carrie Law can understand why Medora would want voters to register.
“We have such an influx of people here in the summertime,” she said.
Jaeger was unaware of any other cities wanting to make voters register, and he doubts any would want to.
“The history of what prompted it in Medora is actually kind of unique,” he said. “I think I understand why they did it in Medora, but right now we are able to operate in North Dakota quite well without voter registration.”
Registration is “a good safe-guard,” Ellison said, adding he hasn’t heard any complaints about the law.
“I think everyone in town accepts the fact that they need to be on the voter registrar,” he said.
April Baumgarten is a reporter at the Dickinson Press, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.