ND seeing much fewer polling places, but people have lots of opportunities to vote

Dec 11, 2017

Credit Prairie Public file

In North Dakota, we’re seeing a trend toward fewer polling places.

"That's been a trend since the 1950s," said Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum. "Even in 1980, we had over 1200 polling places. In 2016, we had just over 400."

Silrum said a big reason for that has been the rising costs of elections.

"Not only do you have poll workers that must be in every polling location,  you also have voting machines," Silrum said. "You also have assistive voting technology for people with disabilities to vote privately and independently."

Silrum said that’s made the neighborhood polling place cost-prohibitive. But he said there have been some positive changes in state voting laws that still mean people can easily vote. For example, you no longer have to have an excuse to vote absentee, and early voting is allowed. And Silrum said some counties have set up “vote centers.”

"If you live within that county, and you find an open polling location on the day of the election, you can go in to that location and find a ballot for your precinct," Silrum said.

Silrum said people are taking advantage of those opportunities.