Legislative committee looking at Voter ID law tweaks

Jan 27, 2017

Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo.
Credit Courtesy ND Legislature

The Legislature will be considering some changes to North Dakota’s “Voter ID” laws that supporters say should be acceptable to the courts.

A federal judge struck down the law – saying it created an undue burden for Native Americans.

The old law used to allow a “voter affidavit” for any voter who didn’t have an ID. That part of the law was removed in the 2013 Session. But because Judge Daniel Hovland said North Dakota didn’t have a “fail safe” way to let individuals without ID vote, the state allowed the affidavits in 2016.

"In this last election in 2016, we had over 14,000 people who walked up to the polling places in North Dakota, said 'I don't have an ID,' signed an affidavit, no proof of anything, voted and then walked away," said Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo). "We don't know how many of those people were citizens."

Kasper said the Legislature is considering allowing a “set-aside” affidavit.

"So people could come to the poll with no ID, and they can vote," Kasper said. "We will take their ballot, and seal it, protecting their choices. We would set it aside, and give them until the Canvassing Board meets to come back and prove who they are and where they live."

Kasper said the proposal also has some “teeth” – in that people who sign false affidavits would be prosecuted for voter fraud. He said in no way is this meant to suppress the vote.

"It's to be sure that people who are legitimate citizens who have the right to vote in North Dakota are the ones voting," Kasper said.

The election measures are being considered in the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee. Kasper chairs that committee.