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Some North Dakota State Students Say They Were Discouraged from Voting

BISMARCK, N.D. ― Election officials are looking into reports that some North Dakota State University students were discouraged from voting at an early voting site on the Fargo campus.

Freshman Phoebe Ellis, 18, of Beldenville, Wisconsin, said she and others were told by an unknown person at the Fargodome that voting could threaten their financial aid by changing their state residency status.

“Some of my friends, they were scared to the point of not voting,” she said.

Assistant theater professor Chelsea Pace said more than half a dozen students told her similar stories, and she alerted the school’s financial aid office. Pace said students told her a woman at the indoor athletic stadium “was giving out pamphlets with scary-sounding legalese.”

Student loans and grants issued by the federal government aren’t impacted by where a student votes, said Hailey Goplen, NDSU’s assistant director for civic engagement.

“Scholarships would only be impacted if a condition of the scholarship is tied to a specific state residency,” she said. “However, this would be highly unlikely for out-of-state NDSU students.”

Cass County Elections Coordinator DeAnn Buckhouse said her office was looking into the matter Tuesday. She stressed that it would be inappropriate for a poll worker to disseminate such information, but noted that “regardless of who it was ― an election worker or not an election worker ― it’s a concern.”

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Tuesday morning that he hadn’t been made aware of the issue. He said students must inform themselves about any ramifications of voting outside of their home precinct.

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