JIM FUGLIE: View From The Prairie — Here’s What The Democrats Meant To Say, I Think

You might have seen, or heard reference to, a goofy little ad North Dakota Democrats ran on Facebook the other day about hunters. I think it was only up on Facebook a few hours because the wording was a little unclear, and it was generally misunderstood by those who read it, and the party got a little heat from some hunters who took it as an attempt at voter suppression (something, not coincidentally, the Democrats have been complaining about a lot lately themselves).

It read:


By voting in North Dakota, you could forfeit your hunting licenses.

You MUST be a resident of North Dakota to vote here. And if you are a resident of North Dakota, you may lose hunting licenses you have in other states.

If you want to keep your out-of-state hunting licenses, you may not want to vote in North Dakota’s 2018 election.

Well, yeah, sort of. To clear things up, here’s what they were trying to say. I think.

The only requirement for voting in North Dakota is that you be a resident of North Dakota, and the definition of resident is someone who has lived here 30 days. But because of a law passed in 2017 by the North Dakota Republican Legislature, you have to prove you are a resident when you show up to vote. The way you prove that is you go get a North Dakota driver’s license or State ID and bring it to the polls.

When you go get a North Dakota Driver’s license or State ID, you are declaring yourself a resident of North Dakota. By doing that, you give up your residency in any other state. Your residence is where you say it is. But to vote, you have to prove it. And legally, you can only be a resident of one state.

So let’s say you’re a college student from Minnesota going to school at North Dakota State University in Fargo. Or an oilfield worker from Oklahoma who came here to drive a truck for a few months in Belfield. But before you left home, you made plans to go back home to hunt deer in November.  So last summer, before you left for college, or hopped in your oilfield truck, you applied for, and received, a Minnesota or Oklahoma resident hunting license.

But when you got here, you got interested in North Dakota politics and found out that to vote here, all you have to do is go get a North Dakota driver’s license. So you do that, not realizing that you are now a resident of North Dakota and can’t use that Minnesota or Oklahoma resident hunting license back home.

That’s what the ad meant. They just shortened it up, without the full explanation. So technically, it is correct. If you took the steps to vote here, by declaring yourself a North Dakota resident, you likely invalidated your resident hunting license back home.

Because if you’re out hunting in the Minnesota or Oklahoma woods and a game warden stops you for a routine license check, he’s probably going to ask to see your hunting license and your driver’s license. And when he sees your North Dakota driver’s license and your Minnesota or Oklahoma resident hunting license, he’s gonna say, “OK, buddy, you got a problem here. You’re a North Dakota resident with a Minnesota or Oklahoma resident hunting license. Sorry, I’m confiscating this license. You’re going to have to go get a nonresident hunting license if you want to hunt here.”

Or worse, if he’s not a nice guy, or a nice guy having a bad day, he could cite you for hunting with an improper license, and you could get fined, or even lose your hunting privileges, depending on what the Minnesota or Oklahoma law says about that violation.

So that’s what the ad was getting at. I think. I don’t mean to speak for the North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party, but I think that is what it meant. The Dems just didn’t use the right words to explain it.

In spite of all my years in marketing, I’ve never been famous as the King of Brevity because sometimes it just takes more words to say what you mean. This is one of those cases, I think.

Anyway, with issues like soybeans rotting in the field and Republicans trying to take away health care from people with pre-existing conditions, it was probably a distraction the party did not need right now. Why is it always so hard for Democrats to stay on message?


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