Long lines and a shortage of paper ballots at some voting centers are the biggest issues Cass County officials say they are reviewing after last month’s midterm election, but three local organizations have additional recommendations on how to make the election process run more smoothly and more efficiently.
The ACLU of North Dakota, North Dakota Voices Network and the League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley recruited 25 volunteers who observed early in-person voting and Election Day voting at Fargo and West Fargo voting centers. Election worker training and the Cass County canvassing board were also observed. This effort is a result of community leaders and organizational partners coming together after the June 2022 primary election to prevent voter suppression of New American and immigrant communities in Cass County for the November 2022 general election.
Overall, volunteers observed that poll workers were respectful, helpful and professional. The main issues occurred on Election Day at the sites with the heaviest traffic. But in addition to the long lines and shortage of paper ballots already reported, there’s much that could be done to improve the voting process in Cass County.
Recommendations and observations from Election Day observers have been compiled into a report shared with Cass County election officials. Some recommendations include:
- Expand early voting hours. Early voting hours ended at 6 p.m. in Cass County and there were no Saturday hours, unlike Clay County and Burleigh County.
- Ensure all sites are compliant with North Dakota Century Code. There was inadequate indoor signage at polling locations including voting instructions, diagrams of voting system devices, adequate copies of ballots and precinct maps and election offenses.
- Improve poll worker training. From knowing when to offer provisional ballots to interacting with transgender voters or voters who have a translator, the way poll workers handled these situations was inconsistent. Better training, including video training they can review if needed before heading to their shifts, would help.
- Increase voter education. Increasing voter education regarding ID requirements is important, especially ensuring voters know they need a valid North Dakota ID to vote. Likewise, voters need to be educated on how the express voting machines work so more people feel comfortable using them.
- Improve canvassing board process. Ensure the meeting is posted in accordance with state open meeting law.
“While North Dakota is fortunate not to have extreme voting laws that have disenfranchised voters in other parts of the country, problems at the polls can still happen,” said Cody Schuler, ACLU of North Dakota advocacy manager. “The right to vote is essential to our democracy and is a fundamental freedom that defines who we are as a nation. It’s our hope that Cass County election officials will take our suggestions to improve the voting process for everyone.”
The Election Observation Report from the ACLU of North Dakota, North Dakota Voices Network and the League of Women Voters of the Red River Valley is below.
About the ACLU of North Dakota
The American Civil Liberties Union of North Dakota is a non-partisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and enhancement of civil liberties and civil rights. The ACLU of North Dakota is part of a three-state chapter that also includes South Dakota and Wyoming. The team in North Dakota is supported by staff in those states.
The ACLU believes freedoms of press, speech, assembly and religion, and the rights to due process, equal protection and privacy, are fundamental to a free people. In addition, the ACLU seeks to advance constitutional protections for groups traditionally denied their rights, including people of color, women and LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit communities. The ACLU of North Dakota carries out its work through selective litigation, lobbying at the state and local level, and through public education and awareness of what the Bill of Rights means for the people of North Dakota.