Voter ID amendment causes dust-up in the ND House

Feb 13, 2013

The House voted to make a wholesale change in a voting bill – to require people who show up to vote to have a picture ID.

It was approved as a so-called “hog house” amendment to a bill that would change residency requirements for voting in a precinct. The bill as now written would require an ID – and would scrap the option that a voter without an ID could sign an affidavit affirming residency – and be allowed to vote that way.

It came out of the House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.

"You need to have an ID to buy a pack of cigarettes," said Rep. Randy Boehning (R-Fargo). "You need an ID to cash a check. Where don't you need an ID?"

Boehning says the amendment further says the state would pay for IDs for those that do not have them. And he says the Secretary of State would be willing to work with the colleges – so that student IDs would have the student’s addresses on them.

Some Democrats complained that the public wasn’t given a chance to weigh-in on what they termed as a major policy change, since it was done by amendment. The bill was referred to House Appropriations, because of the potential cost. Rep. Marie Strinden (D-Grand Forks) urged the Appropriations Committee to hold a thorough hearing.

"Get the Secretary of State down there. Ask him all the questions that need to be answered," said Strinden. "Get our country auditors in. I don't want to pass a bill out of here if it's imperfect, especially if it could possibly disenfranchise the elderly, the homeless, students."

The Appropriations Committee could look at the bill yet this week.