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ID confusion causes some Morris students to miss out on election vote

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A handful of students at the University of Minnesota's Morris campus were unable to cast their votes in Tuesday's elections because of confusion over ID requirements.

Some campus students were turned away from voting booths by Stevens County officials at the Morris 2B precinct yesterday, according to the Bluestem Prairie, having only turned up with their student IDs to complete their same-day registration.

Erik Hatlestand, the UMM campus organizer for the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, was tweeting from the scene and told the Prairie that students had been told they only needed their student ID to vote, but were asked for their driver's license when they turned up at the polling station.

Students were attempting to vote in the fiercely-contested Minnesota House 12a race, which saw Democratic Party incumbent Jay McNamar defeated by Republican Jeff Backer, as well as the 7th Congressional District that saw Democrat Collin Peterson retain his seat against Republican challenger Torrey Westrom.

Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State guidelines stipulate that students on college housing lists only need their student IDs to complete their registration, provided their college has sent a list of students living on campus to the county auditor.

But Stevens County Auditor Amanda Barsness told the Morris Sun Tribune that people are also required to fill out voter registration forms, on which question 7 asks them for either their state driver's licence number, or the last four digits of their social security number.

Barsness said that a number of students had chosen a third option, which says they don't have a driver's license or social security number.

She told the Tribune that election judges had interpreted this to mean that the students do have a driver's license or social security number, but that they just couldn't remember them, which would constitute lying on a federal form. She revealed her office had been in touch with the Secretary of State's office to confirm their interpretation of the rules.

Speaking to the newspaper, she said: "Our concern is that we don't want voters to do anything illegal."

Hatlestad claimed that rather than just writing down their driver's license number, election judges were demanding that students produce the physical license. He told the Tribune that some students did return with the required information and were able to vote.

A comment from the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State's communications director Nathan Bowie to the Prairie stated that student ID was the only identification required in combination with the student housing list provided by the college.

But he added that voters must also fill out the voter registration application that requires an answer to question 7.

Reuters said that voting problems were reported across several states during Tuesday's mid-terms, which included people being turned away for not having the correct ID.

Other problems included issues with voting machines in North Carolina and Texas, a polling breakdown in Florida, and 2,000 election judges failing to turn up in Chicago.

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