Voting is the cornerstone of democracy and a fundamental right. But our democracy works best when every eligible North Dakota voter can cast a ballot.

Transgender and gender non-conforming people have an important voice and the right to vote free of discrimination and harassment.

But North Dakota is one of the most challenging states for transgender and non-conforming voters.

Because North Dakota doesn’t have a voter registration system, everyone is required to present a valid photo ID on Election Day. Having ID that doesn’t match a person’s gender identity or presentation does not affect someone’s right to vote, but it might create obstacles – especially considering the current political climate and number of discriminatory LGBTQ+ laws in the state. Concerns of harassment and personal safety are valid and all-too real.

The ACLU works to ensure that LGBTQ+ and Two Spirit people belong everywhere and can live openly and authentically without discrimination, harassment, or violence. This resource seeks to help voters (and allies) know the rights of transgender and gender-non-conforming citizens as they go to the polls.

Know your rights on Election Day and remember these tips as you head to the polls as a transgender or gender non-conforming voter:

  • Check your ID: Make sure your state issued ID, driver’s license, or tribal issued ID is up to date. If you are not able to update it by the time you go to vote, you will need to provide supplemental documentation. Don’t worry if your gender identity or gender presentation doesn’t match your name, photo, or gender marker on your ID, you are still eligible to vote. As long as all legal requirements have been met, you are entitled to vote.
  • Take a friend: If you are voting in person, consider going with a friend in case you encounter harassment or need to document discrimination. You may want to plan extra time in case you encounter difficulties.
  • Vote by mail: Anyone can vote by mail in North Dakota without a reason (also called “absentee voting”). This is an easy and effective way to vote without having to go to a polling location in person. If you are voting by mail, make sure you fill out your ballot and sign using the name listed on your ID and that it matches the signature on the mail-in/absentee ballot application.
  • You have the right to a set-aside ballot: If you forgot to bring your ID or supplemental documents or a poll worker is refusing to let you vote because of an ID issue, you can still vote with a “set-aside” ballot. If you are not offered one, request one. Note: This ballot won’t be counted immediately. It is set aside – hence the name – until you show a valid ID to your county auditor within 13 days following the election.
  • Ask to speak to the inspector: If you are having issues with a clerk or election judge while voting, ask to speak to the inspector and/or deputy inspector (the polling site managers). If issues remain, look for a volunteer attorney at the polling place who may be there assisting voters or call your County Auditor’s office. You can also call the National Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683). . If you or someone else is in physical danger, call 911.

Please note, this page is a resource, not legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. North Dakota may revise its laws after this page is printed or published online. If you believe your rights have been violated or for more information on your rights as a voter, contact us at or email

1. More Information: ID Changes in North Dakota

A.More Information: ID Changes in North Dakota


Legal Name Change in North Dakota

Should a legal adult want to legally change their name in North Dakota, which would ultimately allow a name change on an ID, a person must petition the court. At least 30 days before filing the person must publish notice of intended application in a newspaper (the publication requirement can be waived for individuals only seeking to change their first name or who have experienced domestic violence). Persons with a felony conviction must provide additional information with their petition and must notify Bureau of Crime Investigation. The North Dakota Courts provides instructions and forms for adult name changes. In order to change a name on a North Dakota driver license or state issued ID, a person is required to bring certified documentation of the change in person to an official driver license site. Changes to Tribal ID will vary by Tribal government.

Gender on ID and Birth Certificates

North Dakota Department of Transportation will update gender on a driver license or ID by providing a letter signed by a physician or therapist licensed in the United States stating that “gender role transition” has been completed in accordance with the World Professional Association for Transgendered Health Standards of Care (WPATH). The letter must include the phrase “gender role transition has been completed.” This means it has been determined that the individual has completed a gender role transition and this change is permanent. (This transition may or may not lead to further surgical intervention.) As with name changes, gender updates must be done in person. Changes to Tribal ID will vary by Tribal government.

The gender marker on a birth certificate can be amended with a request made to the North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services. This requires proof of completed and permanent medical/surgical treatment. State law limits gender markers on birth certificates to “male” and “female.” Also note that state regulations