Student Voting Guide | North Dakota
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, a report that we issued last year documents a number of these changes and 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 in July 2012.
North Dakota is the only state in the nation that does not have voter registration. 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.
You voting residency is the place that you consider home and where you return to after you are away. You do not lose a residency until you establish a new one. Your status as a student does nothing to change the eligibility requirements to vote in North Dakota, 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. 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. Your eligibility to vote can be challenged at the polls by poll workers or by partisan challengers. Students have the right to vote as a resident of North Dakota regardless of student status or whether they pay in-state or out-of-state tuition, and any challenge made solely on the basis of your student or tuition status is invalid. Even if your eligibility is challenged, you can still vote, provided you swear an affidavit to your eligibility.
At the polls, you will be asked to show identification that includes your date of birth and your address — you can use two different IDs if you don’t have one ID that lists both. Valid forms of ID include: a North Dakota driver’s license or non-driver’s ID card; a U.S. passport; an ID card from a federal agency; an ID card issued by a tribal government; a valid student ID; a military ID card; a utility bill dated thirty days prior to Election Day, including cell phone bills and student housing bills (online printouts are okay); and a change of address verification letter from the U.S. Post Office.
Even if you do not have ID, if a poll worker knows you, they can vouch for you if you supply your date of birth. If there is no one to vouch for you, you can still vote after swearing an affidavit to your eligibility.
All voters are allowed to vote absentee in North Dakota for any reason. You must request an absentee ballot no later than the day before Election Day. Your application can be mailed, faxed, attached in an email or delivered in person to your local election official. 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. Your absentee ballot must be returned to your county elections office by 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day. If you return your ballot by mail, it must be postmarked no later than the day before the election. Neither your application nor your ballot needs to be witnessed.
As a convenience to voters, individual counties in North Dakota may offer early voting starting as early as 15 days before Election Day. At early voting sites, you can vote any precinct’s ballot for that county. For locations and times contact your county elections officials.
Last Updated in July 2012
 See N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-05.1 (2012) (“The procedure provided for in this section may not be used to require the registration of electors.”).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-01-04(1) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 54-01-26(1) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 54-01-26(3). (2012).
 1971 Op. Atty. Gen. N.D. No. 71-143 (1971 N.D. AG LEXIS 11).
 See Dunn v. Blumstein, 405 U.S. 330, 330 (1972); Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 328 (2d Cir. 1986).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-06(2) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-06(3) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(1) (2012).
 North Dakota Secretary of State, I.D. Requirements, https://vip.sos.nd.gov/pdfs/Portals/id-requirements.pdf (last visited July 6, 2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(2) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-05-07(3) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-01 (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05(1) (2012).
 North Dakota Secretary of State, North Dakota Residents Choosing to Vote Absentee or by Mail, https://vip.sos.nd.gov/pdfs/Portals/Voting-MailBallotAbsentee.pdf (last visited July 6, 2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05(3) (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05 (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-09 (2012).
 N.D. Cent. Code § 16.1-07-05 (2012).