The North Dakota House of Representatives has passed legislation that would give students access to materials to make it easier for them to vote in upcoming elections.
The House passed an updated version of House Bill 1447 on Wednesday, Feb. 24. The bill, which previously sought to voluntarily print residency information on identification cards, would allow the state’s public colleges and universities to issue students a printable document containing “the institution's letterhead or seal using a self-service process,” according to the legislation. The bill passed 87-7 and now heads to the Senate.
The document must include the student's legal name, current residential address in the state, the date the residential address was established and date of birth. When issuing the document to students, the school would also provide each student with information regarding voter eligibility requirements.
Rep. Ben Koppelman, R-West Fargo, said the document would act as a “utility bill” for students when they need to supplement their North Dakota ID while voting in a district to which they recently moved.
Voters who have a valid North Dakota driver’s license but may not have an updated address can bring a utility bill or some other form of verification that they live in the district in which they are attempting to vote. This bill would give students, who would typically not have access to a utility bill if they live in a residence hall, access to a document to prove they live in their district.
“It verifies that they are indeed living on campus and they're eligible to vote in that precinct,” Koppelman said.
The students would still need to be North Dakota residents (with a valid ID) and have lived in their new district for at least 30 days before they could actually vote.
Similar legislation dealing with student identification cards has failed in the North Dakota Legislature in the past three sessions.
“I think this is a good compromise and it does not change residency,” Rep. Scott Louser, R-Minot, said. “It doesn't change whether or not you're a qualified elector. You must be a qualified elector with a North Dakota identification in order to vote in our elections and this does not change that.”