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North Dakota House approves extended ballot processing

North Dakota House approves extended ballot processing

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Early Voting (copy)

Voters cast their ballots from socially distanced booths inside the Bismarck Event Center main arena on Oct. 27, 2020, as part of Burleigh County's early voting effort. 

North Dakota's House of Representatives on Monday passed a bill giving more time for local election officials to process absentee and mail-in ballots before Election Day.

Senate Bill 2142, brought by Sen. Kristin Roers, R-Fargo, passed 84-9. The Senate in January passed the bill unanimously.

The bill allows ballots to be processed but not tabulated up to three business days before Election Day, until polls close.

North Dakota House votes on a bill that would give more time for local election officials to process mail ballots before Election Day

"This body has varying thoughts and opinions when it comes to the extensive use of absentee and mail-in ballots, but the convenience factor they provide is greatly appreciated by a growing number of voters," said Rep. Greg Stemen, R-Fargo.

Ballots cast before the November general election increased from 38% in 2016 to 48% in 2018 to 75% in 2020, he said. The coronavirus pandemic led to more voting by mail in 2020. 

The bill now goes to Gov. Doug Burgum, who has three legislative days to act upon receiving it.

The bill mirrors an executive order he signed last fall, allowing counties to begin processing ballots up to three business days before the November general election, rather than just the day before an election.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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