BISMARCK -- The North Dakota Secretary of State’s office was fielding some comments and complaints Tuesday about Election Day campaigning and voter identification.
At one polling site in Grand Forks, a couple of University of North Dakota students were sent to get a student ID certification showing their current address. One student said he’d lived in Grand Forks for four years but his student ID certificate still showed his home address as Minot, the Grand Forks Herald reported.
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum said he hadn’t heard any complaints about college students being turned away from the polls. He said students have the right to update their address on their driver’s license and with their university to have it reflected on their student ID certificate.
“But in both cases, the ID has to indicate where that person is residing, and if that doesn’t say where they’re attending school, that means they should vote in the location where their ID says they reside,” he said.
The issue isn’t unique to college students.
“We certainly are hearing a few complaints of people who have lived here for many months, even a year, but failed to update their ID and now are upset that they can’t vote,” Silrum said. “But we’re saying, no, it’s not saying that you can’t vote, it’s saying that your ID says you reside at a different location. … And so according to their ID, they should be able to vote at the polling location of that address, because the law also says you do not lose a voting residence until another is gained.”
In the past, voters had the option of signing an affidavit on the back of the ballot swearing their eligibility to vote. But that option was taken away last year when Republican lawmakers passed a bill that requires voters to bring an acceptable form of ID showing their current address and birth date to the polls, saying it would help eliminate voter fraud.
Silrum said the issue generating the most comments to the secretary of state’s office Tuesday was campaigning on Election Day, something that was illegal in North Dakota until a federal judge effectively struck down the century-old ban as a violation of the right to political speech the week before the November 2012 election.
While some campaigning took place on Election Day that year, this is North Dakota’s first November election with widespread campaigning, including full-page newspaper ads and frequent radio and television spots.
“We’ve been telling people that as long as the campaigning isn’t being done within 100 feet of the polling location, it’s acceptable,” Silrum said.
Silrum said voter turnout was brisk. North Dakota has eight measures on the ballot, the most since June 1996, when there were nine.