North Dakota’s Senate rejected a measure on March 23 that would have required voters to submit their ballots within 30 minutes if they receive the ballot while on line after the polls closed.
The provision in House Bill 1189 was inserted to prevent voters from sitting for long periods of time after the polls are closed, which delays the transmission of the results by hours, senators said.
“Nobody should be able to sit for hours,” state Sen. Shawn Vedaa, a Republican who chairs the body’s Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, said before the vote.
The bill would have also instituted a three-hour time limit for polling places to deliver election results to county courthouses. After critics said a 90-minute limit in the original version was too harsh, the limit in the measure was amended.
Vedaa said on the Senate floor: “We’re just asking that three hours be in there. It’s something for them to shoot for. If there’s an emergency or bad weather, it states right in code that that’s OK, we’ll make an exception.”
State Sen. Mark Weber, a Republican, told colleagues that the deadline is problematic because the distance from polling places to courthouses is as far as 60 miles in some counties.
“Adding a time limit will only exacerbate the level of stress when closing the polls at the end of a 13-hour day, to then tabulate the results and ensure they are accurate, not to mention speeding down the highway late at night to get to the courthouse on time,” he said.
Weber and 31 other senators ultimately voted against the measure; 14 senators voted for it.
The state’s lower chamber passed the bill last month in a 65–29 vote.