With election day just around the corner, I thought it a perfect time to discuss something about North Dakota that has stunned me since I moved to the state. The voter registration process… or rather… the lack of a voter registration process.
When I moved to North Dakota a few years ago, the local elections were being held. I was asked by a coworker if I had voted yet, of which I guiltily replied, “No, I can’t. I haven’t registered yet.” I was a little shocked with the reply I received, “You don’t have to register in North Dakota.” What? I thought she was joking so I looked it up for myself. Sure enough, she was right. You definitely do not register in North Dakota. While I did think this was a little odd, I never gave it much more thought until the political ads began rolling out for this upcoming election. Why is North Dakota the only state where residents do not need to register to vote? My hunt for information began and I was just tickled by what I found because it just is so North Dakotan.
In a nutshell, precincts are small enough (because of many rural communities) that most people running the polls know whether someone is supposed to be voting there or not. If an unfamiliar face strolls in, the individual can show a form of identification to prove they are indeed a resident of the area. And in my opinion, North Dakotans really do have a reputation for being just flat out honest. Why would they lie to vote? But what it really comes down to it seems, is North Dakotans don’t want to deal with any unnecessary bureaucracy behind voter registration. And does it work? Well, according to one website (though maybe not the most credible of sites), North Dakota apparently has no record of voter fraud. Sadly, this clean record has changed since an unfortunate incident with a few NDSU football players… oops.
Ok, so I understand the why, but I still have one question. In Maryland, and I’m sure many other states, registering to vote also makes you eligible to be called in for jury duty. If you don’t register to vote in North Dakota, how do you get chosen for jury duty? What I’m really asking, is there a way for me to avoid it? Just kidding.
So, while I still may have a few unanswered questions, the moral of this story is North Dakota time and time again proves that while the population may be small, the logic of those 680,000 residents is right on. By not making people register, no one can use lack of registration as an excuse for not casting their vote on Nov. 6th. See ya at the polls!