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A Year After 2020 Vote, Fraud Rhetoric Still Lingers in ND

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Thursday, November 11, 2021   

BISMARCK, N.D. -- North Dakota's special session is getting attention for issues outside the original agenda.

Some lawmakers are pushing for changes they feel would clamp down on potential election fraud, but others question the need for such a debate.

A year after the 2020 presidential vote, proposals are still surfacing on making procedural changes in handling elections. In North Dakota, new ideas included bypassing the Secretary of State in examining local results deemed questionable, and adding fraud-detection elements to ballots.

Terry Traynor, executive director of the North Dakota Association of Counties, said county auditors and state officials already do a good job preventing fraud.

"I think it's very secure," Traynor asserted. "And for North Dakota, I certainly don't see where we have those concerns."

The House member leading these efforts, Rep. Jeffrey Magrum, R-Hazelton, acknowledged the uphill battle in getting the bills passed during special session, but said he wants to re-introduce the ideas in future sessions to be proactive. Such moves coincide with national rhetoric from the far right that last year's election was stolen from former President Donald Trump, despite no evidence.

Traynor contended more energy should be spent in educating the public as a way to carve out productive conversations about improving elections.

"Whether it's grade school through high school, higher ed or the citizens in general, there does need to be more knowledge of how elections work," Traynor argued.

Traynor questioned whether North Dakota has the resources to implement systems needed to get some of the ideas in place. Others reluctant to rush in new procedures note Trump won North Dakota.

Nationally, the Brennan Center for Justice said over the past year, 19 states have enacted more than 30 laws opponents say will make it harder for Americans to vote.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.


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