Voter Qualifications

Primary Election is June 10, 2014 *  General Election is November 4, 2014
Click here for the Absentee Ballot Application

In order to vote in North Dakota, you must be:

  •  A U.S. citizen
  • At least 18 years old on the day of election
  • A resident of North Dakota
  • A resident in the precinct for 30 days preceding the election

Determining Residence
Voting residence can be summed up simply by the following excerpt from an opinion issued by the North Dakota Attorney General in May of 1995. The opinion states, "The act of voting does not make a person a resident [of North Dakota]. Rather, a person must be a resident prior to voting."

For the purpose of voting, the term residence and voting residence are synonymous in North Dakota. They are one and the same. Every person has in law a residence. In determining the place of residence, the following rules must be observed. A person's residence is the place where one remains when not called elsewhere for labor or other special or temporary purpose, and to which he or she returns in seasons of repose.  A person can only have one residence.

Revised January 2000

  • A person's residence cannot be lost until another is gained
  • A person's residence can be changed only by the union of act and intent.

[Section 54-01-26 of the North Dakota Century Code]

Choosing to Vote in North Dakota

By voting, military personnel stationed in North Dakota are indicating that they are residents of the state of North Dakota. Therefore, military personnel who wish to vote in North Dakota  elections should be aware of the above residency requirements and the implications and obligations that may follow prior to voting. Among these implications and obligations may be a change in the military personnel's home state of record or the need to file North Dakota State Income Taxes. Military personnel who have questions about voting in North Dakota are encouraged to contact the voting assistance officer assigned to their unit or base for more information about voting in North Dakota.

North Dakota .... The Only State Without Voter Registration

North Dakota is the only state in the nation without some form of voter registration. Therefore, North Dakota voters have no pre election day registration requirements prior to voting.

Voting in North Dakota

A large percentage of precincts in North Dakota maintain a list of voters who have voted in previous elections. When a voter approaches a polling location to vote, the election board attempts to find the voter's name on the voting list. If the voter's name is on the list, the voter's name and address are verified and the voter is then allowed to vote. In precincts that do not maintain a list of voters the election board begins each Election Day with a blank poll book. As each voter's name and address are verified, a member of the election board enters the information into the poll book.

If the voter is not on the list, either because the voter is new to the precinct or for some other reason, or if the voter is suspected of not being a qualified elector of the precinct, the voter may be challenged. As part of the challenge, the voter is asked to sign an affidavit swearing to the fact that he or she is a qualified elector of the precinct and therefore qualified to vote in the precinct. If the voter agrees to sign the affidavit, the voter must be allowed to vote. If the voter refuses to sign the affidavit, the voter may be denied the right to vote.

Challenging Voters
The members of the election board are authorized to challenge the right of anyone to vote whom they know or have reason to believe is not qualified to vote in the precinct. The challenge process may be initiated at the polling location by the Election Inspector or Judge or by poll challengers. Poll Challengers are qualified electors representing the various political parties who are authorized by law to monitor the election. The challenge process also authorizes election officials to challenge voters at the time of distributing absentee ballots to voters.

Members of the election board or poll challengers may challenge a voter if they know or have reason to believe any of the following:

  • The person offering to vote does not meet the age or citizenship requirements.
  • The person offering to vote has never voted in the precinct before and fails to provide reasonable evidence of residency in the precinct.
  • Except as provided in section 16.1-01-05, the person offering to vote physically resides outside of the precinct.
  • The person offering to vote does not meet the residency requirements provided in section 16.1-01-05.

If a voter refuses to sign an affidavit, and is therefore denied the right to vote, as a practical matter he or she may attempt to prove his or her qualifications by providing additional information (e.g. ID, phone bill, tax record, support of a qualified elector, etc.)

Falsely swearing on a voter's affidavit to be a qualified elector is a Class A Misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment, a fine of $2,000, or both. When completing the affidavit, a voter is made aware of these penalties along with the fact that affidavits are subject to review by the County Auditor and County State's Attorney for further investigation.

Military personnel stationed in North Dakota who are residents of the state and choose to vote in North Dakota should not be alarmed if they are challenged at the polls. The challenge process is not intended to be a threatening encounter or a form of intimidation. Rather, the challenge process is a normal component of the Election Day process in North Dakota. Absent voter registration, the challenge process is the only safeguard election boards can rely upon to screen persons wishing to vote in North Dakota.

Voting Absentee in North Dakota - Click here for the Absentee Ballot Application

Absentee voting is also very easy in North Dakota. Absentee ballots may be made available to those who:

  • are qualified electors wishing to vote absentee prior to the date of the election
  • are members of the armed forces of the United States
  • are members of the merchant marine
  • are physically disabled

To apply for an absentee ballot an applicant must apply for an absent voter's ballot on a blank furnished by the proper officer of the county, city, or school district which the applicant is an elector, or on any blank containing the following information:

  • the applicant's name
  • the applicant's voting address
  • the applicant's mailing address
  • the applicant's current home telephone number
  • the election for which the ballot is being requested
  • the date of the request
  • an affirmation that the applicant has resided in the precinct for at least thirty days
  • the applicant's signature.

Qualified electors are no longer required to provide a reason for voting absentee in North Dakota.  Military personnel interested in voting absentee in another state should contact the voting assistance officer assigned to their unit or base to learn about voter registration and absentee

Revised January 2000

voting laws, procedures, deadlines, and forms in the other states and territories.

 Sources and Contacts for Military Voters

Members of the armed services stationed in North Dakota who have questions about voting have many resources to look to for guidance.

Voting Assistance Officers

The best and most accessible resource concerning voting available to military personnel is the voting assistance officers assigned to each unit or base. These individuals are trained to respond to the many voting and residency related questions that arise.

Federal Voting Assistance Program
Toll Free 1-800-438-8683
Web Site

Another valuable resource for all military personnel is the Federal Voting Assistance Program administered by the Secretary of Defense. The FVAP has three distinct goals. These are to:

  • Inform and educate U.S. citizens worldwide of their right to vote
  • Foster voting participation
  • Protect the integrity of, and simultaneously enhance, the electoral process at the Federal, State and local levels.

The FVAP's web site is especially helpful for military voters. The site contains information on voting procedures in the various states and includes voter registration and absentee voting deadlines and forms for military personnel to complete and return.

North Dakota Secretary of State, Elections Division

Toll Free 1-800-352-0867
Web Site

The North Dakota Secretary of State serves as North Dakota's chief election official. The Elections Division is ultimately responsible for carrying out and overseeing election laws and procedures throughout the state and its various political subdivisions.

As with the FVAP, the North Dakota Secretary of State's office also maintains a web site containing valuable information for voters, candidates, and the general public. The site also includes contact information for the state's 53 county election officials (County Auditors) along with absentee ballot applications and other useful election related pamphlets and forms applicable to North Dakota.