New voter ID bill heads to the Governor

Apr 17, 2017

Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo).
Credit ND Legislature

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo).
Credit ND Legislature

The Legislature has passed and sent to Governor Bugrum a new voter ID bill.

It replaces the law that was declared unconstitutional by a federal judge in North Dakota.

The law – passed in 2013 – got rid of the “voter affidavit.” A person who wanted to vote but did not have proper ID could sign that affidavit – and would be allowed to vote. But Judge Daniel Hovland ruled that because the affidavit was discontinued, there was no “fail safe” mechanism for voters without an ID. Hovland said that would put an undue burden on the Native American population.

The law the Legislature passed this session allows a voter without an ID to vote – but the ballot is set aside, and the voter must produce a valid form of ID by the end of the calendar day for that vote to count.

Rep. Mary Johnson (R-Fargo) said she doesn’t think this bill will pass Constitutional muster, either.

"Despite that you provide a provisional ballot, you're still requiring the same valid ID," Johnson said during House debate. "That is not truly a 'fail safe' option like an affidavit is."

Rep. Jim Kasper (R-Fargo) said in drafting the bill, the sponsors worked closely with Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

"The Secretary of State it quite confident that the way the bill is now drafted, it will be in very good standing with the judge," Kasper said. "It's also based upon other rulings across the US."

The House had passed it earlier. The Senate added amendments. But those amendments were taken off the bill in conference committee. The Senate then passed it, and all the House had to do was agree with the conference committee report.

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