North Dakota Considering Several Bills Changing Voting Laws

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Republicans are pushing a group of bills making big changes to voting qualifications and processes.

HB1332, introduced by Rep. Randy Boehning, would change the residency requirement for voting from 30 days before election day to 30 days before absentee ballots are distributed, meaning that you’d have to be in the state for about 70 days to vote. That would push back the residency cut-off date to about August, well before college students arrive in the state. Currently, a lot of college students from out of state arrive here and vote in our elections after living on or near campus for just 30 days. This bill would end that.

HB1238, introduced by Rep. Ben Koppelman, wouldn’t allow absentee ballots to be sent out any earlier than 20 days before the election. Right now law requires that ballots be made ready 40 days before the election, and they can be distributed at any point after that. The idea is that a lot can change in the 40 days leading up to an election, and voters casting their ballots that early may regret it.

HB1400, introduced by Rep. Brenda Heller, would cut early voting times in half. Currently early voting can go on for 15 days prior to election day. This would cut it down to 7.

HB1275, introduced by Rep. Jim Kasper, would change the way ballots cast by people who haven’t proved their home address are handled. Currently people who don’t have proof of their address simply sign an affidavit. Their ballots are then counted, and the affidavits aren’t looked at until after the election. Which is problematic for obvious reasons. This bill would have the ballot cast by that voter put in a sealed envelope and not counted until the voter proves their address with valid identification.

HB1345, introduced by Rep. Chet Pollert, would require that local election officials appoint someone to specifically safeguard ballots from the time of their printing to the time of their destruction.

I’m not a fan of early or absentee voting, and I think our residency and voter ID requirements are far too lax, so these seem like common sense reforms. Democrats, who are very dependent on the university vote, are already crying foul and making accusations of voter suppression, but let’s keep in mind that we not only have a right to vote but also a right not to have our vote canceled out by someone voting illegally, or voting because they meet the bare minimum of our residency requirements but don’t actually live here.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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