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Rep. Jim Kasper, Published April 06 2013

Letter: Election integrity at stake

Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy. To ensure our state’s elections remain above reproach, it is important to preserve the integrity of the process.

That is why in 2003, a law was adopted requiring voters to provide identification at the polls, which included the voter’s residential address and birthdate. This law, which was adopted a decade ago, provided voters with a variety of options to demonstrate their eligibility to vote. If a voter forgot or was unable to provide such proof, they were allowed to sign an affidavit attesting to their eligibility.

In the November 2012 election, 10,519 people, or 3 percent of the voters, were allowed to vote without providing an ID at the polls. Instead, these voters signed an affidavit stating they were qualified electors. In 2010, only 4,337 affidavits were executed by voters.

After the election, the law required the county auditors of the state to send a mailing to these voters to verify their eligibility. However, even if subsequently found to be unqualified, it was not possible to retrieve their voted ballots.

With the dramatic increase in the use of these alternative methods of proving residency coupled with an increase in voter fraud investigations and the rise of out-of-state special interest groups conducting massive voter drives, it is essential to re-examine the state’s voting requirements.

HB 1332 will require voters to provide identification having their residential address and birthdate in order to vote. Voter affidavits would no longer be accepted. Since voter identification law was first passed in 2003, the acceptable forms of identification include a state issued driver’s license, a non-driver identification card issued by the Department of Transportation, official tribal government identification or an alternative form of identification approved by the secretary of state.

HB 1332 only goes two steps further in that the non-driver identity card will be free to all eligible voters who do not have a driver’s license and that voters will be required to provide their identification when voting.

Every effort will be made to ensure that all eligible voters will have identification that will allow them to vote. As it is, having an acceptable form of identification is required for virtually everything, and so it seems reasonable that protecting the integrity of elections should be no less important by simply requiring identification in order to vote.

Kasper, R-Fargo, is chairman, House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee.