North Dakota lawmakers introduce bills impacting voting rights

BISMARCK, N.D. — Multiple bills introduced in the North Dakota legislature would place more restrictions on how and when people can vote.

As the 67th Legislative Assembly nears the end of its first month in session, the focus of Republican lawmakers is clear.

“There are probably two dozen bills or more having to do with voting, elections, campaign finance, certain things like that,” explains Communications and Policy Director Rick Gion with North Dakota Voters First, a nonpartisan voter rights advocacy group.

House Bill 1289 would require a person to live in North Dakota for at least one year and in their precinct for 90 days instead of 30 before an election.

House Bill 1312 places restrictions on who can vote absentee.

Those not voting in person would have to meet certain criteria.

“Absentee voting is necessary,” says Gion. “A lot of counties, especially in rural areas, Native American reservations, they depend on absentee mail, mail-in voting, dropping your ballot off at the county courthouse.”

Lawmakers who introduced these bills say they’re to ensure integrity in our elections, but Gion says they’re unnecessary.

“It’s a solution in search of a problem. There isn’t a problem with the voting system in North Dakota. We don’t see election fraud in North Dakota. A lot of these bills can be called voter suppression,” Gion adds.

He says one of the most troubling pieces of legislation is House Bill 1397.

It would exempt drafts of redistricting plans from open records requirements.

“We cannot have politicians picking their voters in secret,” Gion adds. “We are against that bill until there’s some amendments that would open that process up a little bit so people can see what’s going on with drafts of those legislative district lines.”

This legislature, Gion says, should be focusing on COVID-19 relief for North Dakotans at a time when it’s desperately needed.

To view the bills, click these links: House Bill 1289, House Bill 1312, House Bill 1397.

For more information on North Dakota’s 67th Legislative Assembly, click here.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News, Politics / Elections