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Early Voting Popular but Lawmakers Look at Rollbacks

January 28, 2009

Bismarck, ND – In the last election almost four out of ten voters in North Dakota cast their ballots before Election Day. Despite that, some North Dakota lawmakers are moving to shorten the amount of time reserved for early voting. According to Janis Cheney with AARP North Dakota, for people living in rural areas, one proposal would eliminate the option for early voting. For people in more urban areas, the same bill would not allow early voting by mail.

"One of the things that seemed to work very well in this last election was the voting-by-mail process; at least a couple of the bills address that, and would either do away with it or limit it significantly."

A bill sponsored by House Republican leader Bill Carlson would shorten the 15-day window for early voting to just seven days.

Cheney says another bill could result in thousands of North Dakotans not having their votes counted. That bill says voters who sign affidavits on their eligibility to vote will have to provide more information within three days, or their votes will be thrown out.

Cheney believes North Dakota's current voting system is the envy of other states.

"The North Dakota election system works very very well; there has been no evidence of voter fraud, and the bottom line is, we don't think we should be changing our laws to make it more difficult for people's voices to be heard at the ballot box."

Backers of the changes have expressed concern about the potential for people voting more than once, or to vote where they're not eligible.

Dick Layman, Public News Service - ND