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Burgum signs voter ID bill amid lawsuit

Doug Burgum, winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary Tuesday, holds a press conference with running mate Brent Sanford on Wednesday, June 15, 2016, at the Radisson Hotel in downtown Fargo. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum signed legislation amending the state's voter identification laws Monday, April 24, despite warnings it doesn't comply with a federal judge's ruling.

Burgum signed House Bill 1369, his spokesman Mike Nowatzki said. It comes amid a federal lawsuit challenging changes made by the Republican-led Legislature in the past two sessions.

The bill allows those who don't bring a valid ID to the polls to cast a ballot that's set aside until they produce an ID. If an ID doesn't include required information or is out of date, a voter could use a current utility bill, bank statement, government-issued check, paycheck or government document to supplement the ID.

"The right to vote is a powerful underpinning of American democracy, and this legislation protects that right while offering eligible citizens multiple and straightforward opportunities to legally cast their ballot," Burgum said in a statement. "House Bill 1369 strengthens the integrity of our elections by ensuring all voters have proper identification while allowing those without current or complete forms of ID to provide supplemental documents to verify their eligibility."

Valid forms of ID under the bill are a driver's license or non-driver's ID card issued by the Department of Transportation or a tribal government-issued ID. It includes several options for those living in special circumstances, such as a long-term care facility.

Last year, a federal judge ruled previous changes to the state's voter ID laws have placed an "undue burden" on Native Americans and others, adding that a "safety net is needed for those voters who cannot obtain a qualifying ID with reasonable effort."

Tom Dickson, an attorney representing the tribal members in that case, previously said House Bill 1369 doesn't comply with the judge's ruling.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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