House Votes To Remove Student Certificates From Voter ID Laws

Today the House passed HB1333 on a 66-24 vote after a floor debate focused on the removal of student certificates as a valid ID.

Student certificates were printouts produced by the university system for students vouching for their eligibility to vote. These were authorized by the Secretary of State’s office last election, but with this bill the Legislature would remove that authority.

Here’s the key portion of the bill:

hb1333

Democrats representing districts near the state’s major universities – Rep. Corey Mock (D-Doesn’t Live In His District), Rep. Kyle Oversen (D-Grand Forks) and Rep. Kris Wallman (D-Fargo) – all griped about the removal of student certificates. But in response Rep. Scott Louser (R-Minot) wondered why students should get special treatment under the law.

“I hope that we have a higher than average expectation for our college students,” he said. “I think it’s appropriate to treat those old enough to vote as adults.”

Mock did make what I took to be a valid point about the vulnerability of the state’s ID database managed by the Department of Transportation. HB1333 would allow for a current or expired drivers license as valid ID, because any ID will correspond with a current address obtained from the DOT for the state’s voter file. But Mock pointed out that anyone can go online and change their current address with the DOT without any sort of a verification.

He also pointed out that our reliance on the DOT’s address database has brought North Dakota – the only state in the union without voter registration – to a point where voters are pretty much required to register.

“We have created a de facto voter registration system,” he said.

Of course, the solution for that is to create an actual voter registration system, which I think we ought to just go ahead with. It’s hard to imagine how we’re going to have coherent voter ID laws without one. Though that’s an odd thing for a Democrat to argue about given their general hostility to any verification requirements for voting.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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