Student Voting Guide | North Dakota

August 15, 2014

This student voting guide explains the laws for the state of North Dakota.  If you wish to vote from your school address, check the student voting guide for the state where you attend school. If you want to cast an absentee ballot in your home state, check the student voting guide for that state.

The Brennan Center is committed to giving students as much information as possible to help you exercise your constitutional right to vote. More than ever in recent history, changes to voting laws are being implemented in ways that can affect your ability to make your vote count. In addition to the content you will find in this Student Voting Guide, we continue to track passed and pending voting law changes here. While we are working to give you up-to-date information, we urge you to be proactive! In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, you should also check with your state and local election officials for information about additional requirements or regulations.

This voting guide was last updated August 15, 2014.


North Dakota is the only state in the nation that does not have voter registration.[1] You simply need to show up at the polls or apply for an absentee ballot and comply with the ID requirements described below. 

You are eligible to vote in North Dakota if you are 18 years or older, a resident of North Dakota, and have resided in the precinct you wish to vote in for at least 30 days preceding the election.[2]

If you have been convicted of a felony, it may impact your ability to vote.[3] If you think you might be affected, you should contact your local election officials.


Your voting residency is the place that you consider home and where you return to after you are away.[4]  You do not lose a residency until you establish a new one.[5] Your status as a student does nothing to change the eligibility requirements to vote in North Dakota,[6] and student status alone does not determine your residency for voting purposes – you must decide where you consider “home.”

At School. Students can establish residency in North Dakota if they have a present intention to remain at their North Dakota school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home.[7] Any other interpretation of the residency laws is unconstitutional. Voting in North Dakota may be considered a declaration of residency, potentially making you subject to other laws that govern state residents.

At Home. Students who lived in North Dakota before moving elsewhere to attend school, and who wish to establish or keep their North Dakota voting residency (i.e., at their parents’ North Dakota address), should have no problem doing so unless they have already registered to vote in another state. Like most states, North Dakota allows students to keep their voting residency even if they move out of the district to attend school, and the only way you will lose this residency is by establishing residency in a new state.  While registering to vote in another state is not automatically considered an abandonment of your North Dakota residency, some judges or officials might view it as such.

Challenges to Residency. North Dakota does not have a formal process by which a voter’s residency may be challenged.[8]   


At the polls, you will be asked to show identification with your name, address, and date of birth.[9]  Valid forms of ID include: a North Dakota driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card; an ID card issued by a tribal government; or an alternative form of identification prescribed by the Secretary of State, such as a student identification certificate provided by a North Dakota college.[10] More than one form of identification may be used to satisfy the requirements.[11]

If you do not possess an accepted form of ID, election officials may request further information from you such that you can vote.[12] You may also apply for a non-driver photo identification card.[13]


All voters are allowed to vote absentee in North Dakota for any reason.[14] You must request an absentee ballot no later than the day before Election Day.[15] Your application can be mailed, faxed, attached in an email or delivered in person to your local election official.[16] However, if you are applying by a method other than in person, be aware that you must apply early enough so that you can receive, complete, and mail the absentee ballot back to the county auditor’s office before Election Day.[17] The application must include your driver’s license number, non-driver identification number, tribal identification number, or a copy of an alternate accepted form of identification (see Identification section above).[18] If you do not possess an accepted form of ID, the application must also be signed by another qualified elector, who must provide his or her name, driver’s license, non-driver’s or tribal identification number, and certify that you are a qualified elector.[19] Your absentee ballot must be returned to your county elections office by 4 p.m. on Election Day.[20] If you return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked no later than the day before the election.[21] Neither your application nor your ballot needs to be witnessed.

Early Voting

Counties in North Dakota may offer early voting for the fifteen days before Election Day.[22] At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county. For availability, locations, and times contact your county elections officials.

The ID requirement (see Identification section above) applies to all persons voting early.

Last Updated August 15, 2014

[1] See N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-05.1 (“The procedure provided for in this section may not be used to require the registration of electors.”).

[2] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-04(1).

[3] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-04(4).

[4] N.D. Cent. Code § 54-01-26(1).

[5] N.D. Cent. Code § 54-01-26(3).

[6] 1971 Op. Atty. Gen. N.D. No. 71-143 (1971 N.D. AG LEXIS 11).

[7] See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).

[8] The prior challenge process was repealed in 2013. 2013 N.D. Laws 167.

[9] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(1).

[10] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(1); ID Required for Voting, N.D. Sec’y of State (March 2014), available at  

[11] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(1)(d).

[12] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07

[13] N.D. Cent. Code § 39-06-03.1.

[14] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-01.

[15] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05(1).

[16] North Dakota Secretary of State, North Dakota Residents Choosing to Vote Absentee or by Mail, (last visited Aug. 14, 2014).

[17] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05(3).

[18] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-06(1)(k).

[19] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-06(3); ID Required for Voting, N.D. Sec’y of State (March 2014), available at

[20] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05.

[21] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-09.

[22] N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-15.