Corey Mock

Month: January 2016

Lawmakers float voter ID proposals

Grand Forks Herald









North Dakota lawmakers are proposing changes to the state’s voter identification law after some had problems casting a ballot in November.

The proposals come after the Legislature changed North Dakota’s voter identification law two years ago to do away with the voter affidavit process that allowed voters to cast a ballot without proper ID. A bill introduced last week by Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, would reverse that change and bring back affidavits.

“Let’s go back to the 2013 law and start from there,” Mock said.

But Rep. Randy Boehning, R-Fargo, said voter affidavits leave the state’s election system vulnerable to fraud. He’s sponsoring a bill that would allow citizens who don’t have an updated ID to use a change of address form, bill or bank statement that shows they’ve lived in that location for 30 days to vote. It would also clarify acceptable forms of ID, which wouldn’t include student identification certificates.

Neither proposal, House Bill 1333 or House Bill 1302, has been scheduled for a hearing.

Republican Secretary of State Al Jaeger declined to comment until his office had a chance to review the proposals. He said there have been at least 25 bills introduced that “relate to some aspect of the election process,” including voter identification, administration and campaign finance.

Boehning’s bill was originally drafted by the Secretary of State’s office and slightly modified based on legislative feedback, Jaeger said.


Mock, whose district includes the UND area, said his proposal comes in response to problems he heard about during Election Day. He said some college students were able to update their address on their student identification certificate on Election Day, as were non-students who updated their driver’s license during business hours.

“After 5 p.m., the DMV was closed,” Mock said, so some non-students who were unable to update their addresses were turned away. Some students also reported trouble at the polls.

Boehning said eliminating the student identification certificate, which is provided by the North Dakota University System, helps clarify that voters need identification showing their current address 30 days before the election.

Grand Forks County Auditor Debbie Nelson said she doesn’t want to go back to using voter affidavits. She said people could go to multiple precincts and cast a ballot using an affidavit, and the votes would count. Nelson said she wasn’t aware of people doing that, however.

“They may have to go to jail, but their vote is going to count,” Nelson said. “I have no idea if they did it or not. I guess we would never know.”

Sen. Mac Schneider, D-Grand Forks, previously said the criminal penalties for illegally filing an affidavit were enough of a deterrent for voter fraud.

Schneider said Thursday he’s working on a bill that would allow for provisional ballots. Unlike affidavits, provisional ballots wouldn’t be counted until eligibility was proven, Schneider said.

‘Treated equally’

Boehning said the language in his bill that allows people to use a U.S. Postal Service change of address form, bill or bank statement is meant to address voters who may have “fallen through the cracks.” His bill has the support of Assistant Minority Leader Sen. Joan Heckaman, D-New Rockford.

Mock said he’s working on an amendment to Boehning’s bill that would allow someone with an ID from another state to vote if they could prove they are living in North Dakota and are otherwise eligible to vote here. He said that would require verification they aren’t voting in two states.

“We want to make sure that a student or anyone in Grand Forks or anywhere else in North Dakota is treated equally, whether their last address is Bismarck or Maple Grove, Minn.,” Mock said.

Boehning’s bill would also clarify that people could use an expired driver’s license or a long-term care certificate. A uniformed service member or qualified family member temporarily stationed away from their residence could use a current military ID card or passport under Boehning’s bill.

Boehning, the sponsor of the bill last session that eliminated voter affidavits, was also opposed to returning to that system.

“We have to show our ID for just about everything these days,” Boehning said.


Grand Fort warming hut, snow fort takes shape in Town Square

Grand Forks Herald

Those walking Thursday in downtown Grand Forks might have heard a thundering rumble.

A front-loader mounded a warming hut made of brightly painted metal culverts with heaps of snow to create the Grand Fort in the Town Square. The new installation is expected to remain in place as long as the cold weather lasts, giving passersby a place to escape from the wind and cold, as well as local children the chance to frolic in the snow.

“I think it’s going to make (Town Square) very fun for the kids,” Opp Construction Vice President Sally Miskavige said as one of her company’s front-loaders poured snow over the project.

Related: ‘Ghosts’ art project brings art scene in Grand Forks to life

The piece was principally funded by a roughly $4,500 Forkin it Over grant awarded in December to the Greater Grand Forks Young Professionals. The project was constructed at a cost of about $7,000 by Opp Construction.

The Downtown Development Association plans to welcome the piece to the Town Square—and skating at the nearby rink—with a 3 p.m. event Friday. A performance from the Northern Lights Figure Skating Club will kick off the event, which also includes free cider and cookies from Dakota Harvest Bakers.

Corey Mock, executive director of the Young Professionals, said he hopes the community enjoys the addition to the downtown ice rink.

“Anyone who wants to come down and see it, we want to see you here,” he said.

Miskavige said once the fort is removed from the Town Square—likely as snow begins to melt—it might enjoy a summer home along the Greenway, maybe with some extra features inside for fitness enthusiasts.

UPDATE: Glassheim announces retirement from Legislature

Grand Forks Herald

Eliot Glassheim thanks the crowd for celebrating his achievements on Saturday, May 02, 2015, at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)
Eliot Glassheim thanks the crowd for celebrating his achievements on Saturday, May 02, 2015, at the North Dakota Museum of Art in Grand Forks, N.D. (Logan Werlinger/Grand Forks Herald)

Longtime Grand Forks Rep. Eliot Glassheim announced Saturday he will not seek another term in the North Dakota Legislature.

Glassheim’s retirement announcement follows a year of ups and downs for the 77-year-old. In April, a possible infection led to a hospital stay for Glassheim, who has lived with lung cancer for some time.

“Though my health has improved in the past few months, I am unable to give 100 percent effort, which the voters of District 18 have come to expect from me,” he wrote in an email announcing his retirement.

Serving in the House of Representatives in the 1975 session and again since 1993, Glassheim has been a familiar face to many both at the Capitol and in Grand Forks. Interacting with many people on both sides of the aisle at home and in Bismarck is something he considered a highlight of his career as a representative.

Grand Forks City Councilman Eliot Glassheim. Archive photo from 2012

Grand Forks City Councilman Eliot Glassheim. Archive photo from 2012

“In some ways it was hard, but I’ll miss walking around my district and knocking on doors and leaving my brochures or talking to people if they were home,” Glassheim told the Herald Saturday. “It was challenging sometimes, but it was fun in retrospect.”

Often in the minority as a member of a Republican-controlled House, Glassheim said he is still proud to have made a number of accomplishments during his tenure.

Some of those achievements include securing funding for the new UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences building, developing a funding mechanism that allowed Northeast Human Service Center and Grand Forks County Social Services to share a building and conceiving the state department of tourism’s Learning Vacation Program.

“The thing that I’ve always liked is problem-solving,” Glassheim said. “When people came with problems, I would try to think of ways the Legislature could help, but I was thwarted sometimes because my way to solve a problem did not match with the majority, so that was a little frustrating.”

‘A loss’

Sen. Ray Holmberg, R-Grand Forks, called Glassheim a “gentleman” who is respected in both chambers of the Legislature and within both political parties.

“He has many Republican friends who disagree with him on issues, but they are his friends because he believes what he says,” he said. “He’s not a posturer.”

Holmberg said he was not surprised by Glassheim’s announcement in light of his health problems, which interrupted his work in the last legislative session, “but his wit and his mind are always there, even when he’s hurting.”

“It’s a loss to the Legislature,” Holmberg said.

Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, has served alongside Glassheim for seven years and said his absence in the Legislature is one that will be felt for a generation.

“The impact that Eliot had in the Legislature transcends political affiliation,” he said of his mentor and friend. “Republicans, Democrats alike look at him as a statesman, a scholar and as the embodiment of what representative democracy is all about.”

Mock recalled that Glassheim didn’t speak often on the floor, declining to jump up and share his point of view on every bill heard by the House over his 26 years representing Grand Forks.

“Eliot spoke rarely, but when he spoke everybody in that chamber listened,” he said. “They listened. They hung on every word and took everything he said with heartfelt consideration.”

While it’s a moment that Mock said is a difficult one, he added he is glad that Glassheim is putting his health and family first.

Following last year’s health scare, friends and colleagues organized a celebration for Glassheim, with Mayor Mike Brown declaring May 3, 2015, as “Eliot Glassheim Day” and revealing a portion of Third Street in Grand Forks would be honorarily known as Eliot Glassheim Way.

Brown called Glassheim a role model and praised him as a mediator and calm, thoughtful presence on the City Council, on which he served for 30 years.

“Eliot has always been an ideal statesman,” he said Saturday. “I was very pleased to have him as a mentor in my early mayoral term.”

Brown said Glassheim’s years of public service left a mark on Grand Forks.

“The community will never be able to repay the years of service he has given us,” he said.