Are North Dakota’s Voter ID Requirements Too Complicated For College Students?

Earlier this week the Fargo Forum ran a story purporting to illustrate how difficult it is for college students to vote.

Some of the quotes from students were kind of hilarious. Case in point:

McKinley Theobald has volunteered in Fargo-Moorhead and canvassed in Iowa for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders.

But the North Dakota State University junior still doesn’t know where or how she will vote for Sanders in November, should he become the nominee.

“I wanted to register in North Dakota because this is where I live now. I spent the entire school year; it’s where I’ve invested my life,” Theobald, 23, said Tuesday. “But my parents are now moving to Illinois, and I have no connection to Illinois, but it’s easier for me to vote in Illinois, and that’s just kind of absurd to me.” …

“It’s something that drives me absolutely mad because, if I’m living in a place and I’m invested in the community, then why should I not be able to vote here?” she said.

First, North Dakota doesn’t have voter registration, which is something you’d think Theobald would know if she’d actually spent any time reviewing the state’s voting law. You almost get the idea that this student has glommed onto the left wing “voter ID = bad” talking point without actually, you know, informing herself.

Second, it’s interesting to hear Theobald talk about where she lives. She says North Dakota is where she lives, where she has invested her life, but she also talks about voting where her parents live in Illinois because it’s easier to vote there.

But if Theobald wants to vote in North Dakota, all she has to do is get a driver’s license or state ID with her current address on it. And if her address changes before election day she only has to go online and change her address through the DOT’s online address change form. She can do this up until 30 days before the election. If her address changes less than 30 days before the election, she has to vote in the district she lived in previously.

That’s it. Not too much, you’d think, for someone who says they have invested their life in our state. But then, it’s still not clear Theobald knows what our state’s laws are.

And then there’s this:

Joersz has changed her address on her driver’s license, but her friend, sophomore Shania Wilson, didn’t realize that was a requirement. Once she found out, Wilson said she probably wouldn’t go to the hassle of making the change.

Again, you can literally go on the DOT website and change the address. Here’s the link. Here’s the voting guide on the Secretary of State’s website which links to the change of address site. For someone to say that they won’t “go to the hassle” of changing their address so they can vote after moving makes me think that person maybe shouldn’t be voting anyway.

I mean, if they can’t spend five minutes on a website to update their address, what makes you think they’ve spent any time learning about the candidates?

A lot of the complaints from students have to do with the Legislature eliminating the student certificate, issued by the universities, as a valid method of identification at the polls. But the student certificates were problematic in that they didn’t necessarily certify that a student is actually a qualified North Dakota voter.

Besides, I have a hard time believing that a lot of these students are all that invested in North Dakota politics. They want to vote here and sway elections, but given a) most students at North Dakota’s universities are from out of state and b) most of those students will leave North Dakota after graduating you have to wonder why they should get to influence public policy in a place they’re only living in temporarily.

But overall I’m fine with students voting, I guess. But they should have to meet the same ID requirements as the rest of us.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from 1-2pm weekdays.

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