Let’s not make it harder to vote

Carol Sawicki, Fargo

Several bills have been introduced in the North Dakota legislative session that would require proof of United States citizenship to vote in our elections. These bills are unnecessary, potentially discriminatory, and may result in qualified voters deciding to stay away from the polls.

Every person who comes to a polling site in North Dakota is already asked if they are a U.S. citizen before they are given a ballot. Requiring them to provide another verification implies that they are not giving a truthful answer to that question.

Moreover, North Dakota already has a process in place if an election official believes someone has voted who is not eligible. The official can send that individual’s information to the state’s attorney to investigate, and if the voter is found to be ineligible, they face a hefty fine or even jail time.

Before 2002, poll workers were not allowed to ask voters for identification, and in nearly every session since, the laws have gotten tighter on voters to prove they are eligible. Constantly changing the requirements to vote may cause eligible voters to be unprepared when they head to the polls at the next election.

Voting for the candidates who will create our laws is the greatest power that each of us has to influence the laws that impact us. Qualified voters should be encouraged to participate, not discouraged by creating more requirements and obstacles.

If even one eligible voter is discouraged from voting by a proof of citizenship requirement, that would be one too many.


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