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Rep. Ben Hanson, Published April 08 2013

Letter: North Dakota voter ID proposals aim at problems that don’t exist

In response to “Election integrity at stake” (April 7) by Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo:

We have a very decent voting system here in North Dakota. It has led to us being named one of the top 5 states for voting in the nation, with high turnout rates and participation. Now some in the Legislature want to alter that without much reason. The bill being referred to, HB 1332, started as a requirement for residency (being able to vote in that precinct) being increased from 30 days to 70 days. This was then changed entirely in committee to require voters to show an ID at the polls. Among many things cited in Kasper’s editorial was a “an increase in voter fraud investigations.” Except this simply doesn’t exist.

What wasn’t mentioned was the cost to the state, which ranges from $200,000-$250,000 in initial cost. I don’t particularly think taxpayers in North Dakota think a quarter of a million dollars being spent on a non-existent problem is a good use of their money or the kind of priority we should be addressing as a legislative body. This cost doesn’t even factor in the inevitable database and voter registry system that will be needed to run such a system, despite laughable claims that this new system will essentially just run itself after initial cost.

At forums in Fargo and West Fargo, and on the floor, we have heard a lot of talk about needing an ID to buy a beer or a pack of cigarettes, so why not voting? You do not have a right to a beer. You do not have a right to a pack of cigarettes. You have a right to show an ID, produce tender of some sort and purchase a beer or pack of cigarettes. And the vendor still has the right to refuse you service. You have a right to vote. Period. See the difference?

North Dakota’s voting system is unique and something of which to be proud. I have yet to speak to a single constituent who has listed changing it as a concern. And yet some legislators are determined to spend both time and taxpayer money fighting a problem that doesn’t exist.


Rep. Hanson, D-West Fargo, represents District 16 in the North Dakota House.