The House debated a bill Wednesday that would require North Dakota cities with more than 200 people to have at least one voting site open on the day of a statewide election.
House Bill 1292 passed on a 55-39 vote, despite its do-not pass recommendation.
The Political Subdivisions Committee felt itâ€™s up to local counties to determine how many polling places are in each county, said Rep. William Kretschmar, R-Venturia.
â€œItâ€™s kind of an unfunded mandate, telling the county auditors to be required to set up polling places in a certain number of cities, but weâ€™re not sending them any money to pay for the added costs,â€ he said.
However, bill sponsor Rep. Jim Kasper, R-Fargo, defended the bill, saying itâ€™s the job of lawmakers to represent the people and make changes deemed right for the benefit of the people.
Kasper shared stories of counties where voters have to drive up to 40 miles if they want to vote at a polling site instead of by mail. If approved, the bill would add 54 polling locations in the state, according to the billâ€™s fiscal note.
Rep. Robin Weisz, R-Hurdsfield, opposed the bill. If people donâ€™t like how their county handles elections, they can elect new county officials, he said.
Rep. Mike Schatz, R-New England, spoke of the dwindling polling locations in his county. If people are going to be encouraged to vote, they need a place to vote, he said.
The bill now goes to the House Appropriations Committee.