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No Excuses… Just Vote.

November 2, 2012 by Hailey Goplen

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!



  1. Pat G says:

    Back in your old state , or least in the neighboring county , votor registration is one one source of Jury Duty. Drivers Lisc , and property tax rolls also used now.

  2. Kathy says:

    Interesting. So in North Dakota, do you vote electronically at the polls or with paper/pencil? I understand in Oregon it is all done via mail, much like an absentee ballot.

  3. And if you recently moved to North Dakota and haven’t gotten a new driver’s license, you can still vote in state if you didn’t vote absentee in your home state. Just bring your driver’s license and something with your name and new address (mail, a lease agreement) and you can vote here!

  4. Jane says:

    I have been selected for jury duty three times and the cases have been settled or dismissed or something because each time I was notified that I did not have to show up for jury selection.So it is not easy to get on a jury and the pay is lousy, I think $25/day.

  5. Jeremy says:

    And Minnesota has same-day voter registration. You can register at the polling location.

    It was one of the factors that made Gov. Jesse Ventura a reality. College students showed up in droves to register and cast their ballot.

  6. Rachel says:

    I’m not totally sure, but I think in ND they pick people eligible for jury duty from the ND driver’s license list.

    • Marvin says:

      For the jury pool, anyone with a drivers license gets their name put in the hat, as well as anyone who voted(they take it from the list of people who voted). So, if you vote, you have twice the chance of getting called to jury duty. I am 53 and have been selected 3 times over the years.

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