North Dakota Democrats have gone on the offensive with regard to the state’s new voter ID program. Earlier this week, Democrat Secretary of State candidate April Fairfield went so far as to accuse Republicans of passing new voter ID laws in order to suppress the college student and Native American vote.
“It had nothing to do with the integrity of the process,” Fairfield said of the Republican-dominated Legislature’s decision to pass new voter ID requirements. “It was because Rick Berg lost the U.S. Senate race. There were over 10,500 affidavits signed during the last general election. Rick Berg lost by 3,000 votes.”
Fairfield is referring to previous law which allowed people to by-pass the state’s existing voter ID law by filling out an affidavit attesting residency. The problem is, none of those affidavits was ever getting verified. Indeed, there was no practical way to verify them before the votes were tabulated and winners announced.
That meant the integrity of our voting process really was at risk, and the Legislature’s efforts to reform the process were prudent.
Still, Democrats persist in arguing that voters were turned away in great numbers because of the new voter ID requirements. But incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger just took the wind out of those sails too. He’s pointing out, based on numbers from 30 of the state’s 53 counties collected by the Association of Counties (not all counties responded), that the number of people turned away from the polls due to problems with the voter ID was miniscule:
Complete statistics were not provided, but Jaeger said the 30 counties responding to an Association of Counties poll reported 22 voters who had not updated their identification with their current address and 66 who did not have acceptable forms of ID. Of those 66, 16 returned to the polling place with the proper ID.
“The numbers of problems were higher with tribal IDs, but that largely traces to one situation,” he said. “The Turtle Mountain tribal government has passed a resolution providing tribal ID cards that include the address. We’re working with the Spirit Lake tribe as well.”
So, in total, 72 voters were turned away. Even if we double that number to account for the counties that didn’t respond to the survey, that’s 144 voters turned away. Out of the 93,624 that voted.
That’s about one-tenth of one percent of voters turned away because of the new voter ID law, which is a pretty good number given that this was the first time through for the law.
If only we saw that sort of success rate with other government programs.
And, as Secretary Jaeger notes, the bulk of the problem occurred on one reservation where the problem with tribal ID’s is being addressed.
In other words, this was a tiny problem, that will soon be even tinier as ID’s and other issues are fine tuned.
I’m not sure Democrats have much of an argument here.