A recent survey of students in North Dakota found 3.2 percent of students who attempted to vote in the 2014 midterm elections were unable to participate due to confusion over residency requirements.
Many students were unaware that recent changes in the state’s voter identification laws meant they needed to update their addresses by Oct. 5, 2014, if they wanted to vote in the precinct where they live.
Aaron Weber, Executive Commissioner of Governmental Relations and Intercollegiate Affairs at North Dakota State, acknowledged the new system was bound to have flaws. He said student government is working on solutions to fix student voter problems.
“The fall of 2014 was the first time these requirements were put into place. With any new system, there are bound to be issues,” Weber said. “Student government is working on potential remedies to these problems and will be testing them out with the upcoming Fargo mayoral election.”
The survey was conducted as part of a larger study by the Upper Midwest Regional Center on public policy at NDSU.
The invitation to participate in the survey was sent to students at the eleven North Dakota University System colleges and universities shortly after the election.
The results of the survey state 689 students of the 1,797 students across North Dakota who responded to the survey were unable to vote due to residency issues.
To vote in this state, the voter must show identification including a driver’s license, a non-driver ID issued by DOT or a university-issued student identification certificate.
Many students have driver’s licenses with their parents’ address rather than their own, because of this, many students who wanted to vote were turned away.
Residency requirements presented a bigger issue for student voters from the larger universities in the state, including NDSU and University of North Dakota. Students at larger universities are more likely to have moved from their home town for school than students who attend other smaller colleges.
Problems with student voting were reported in various local media outlets after the election. Many voters questioned if the problem was more widespread than suspected.
“We certainly don’t feel as though students are being discriminated against,” Weber said on the issue. “Students are expected to follow the law just like anyone else who wants to vote in North Dakota, whatever the requirements may be.”