Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp appears to be endorsing an ad that threatens North Dakota voters with the loss of their out-of-state hunting license if they vote in the midterms. The only problem is, the ad isn’t true, with a “pants on fire” rating from PolitiFact. Critics have pushed back on the ad, which appeared on Facebook this week, saying that the message is akin to voter suppression.
The 2018 elections are proving to be intense, with political spending outpacing any mid-terms in history. In order to gain an edge, political parties and leaders on both sides of the aisle are using questionable methods to discourage voters from turning out.
That potentially includes the North Dakota senator, who is in a tight race with Republican Kevin Cramer. On November 1, the North Dakota Democratic–Nonpartisan League Party (D-NPL), the North Dakota affiliate of the Democratic Party of the United States, ran an ad on Facebook that warned hunters they would lose their out-of-state hunting licenses if they voted.
“Attention hunters: Voting in North Dakota could cost you your out-of-state hunting licenses,” says the Facebook ad.
“If you vote in North Dakota, you may forfeit 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.”
When asked about the ads’ message, she defended it, saying people “need to understand the consequences of voting.”
“Voting means you are a resident, it means you pay taxes here, it means that if you want a residential hunting license in Minnesota, it means you’re not going to get that, if you vote here,” she said.
PolitiFact says the ad is misleading. According to the site, as long as you don’t have a resident’s hunting license from another state, you’re safe. Hunters who live in North Dakota should have an out-of-state hunting license for other states and a resident’s permit for North Dakota.
The ad was intended to target individuals who have just moved from outside of North Dakota, according to the D-NPL. But PolitiFact says that even if a newly-moved voter cast a ballot in North Dakota, it wouldn’t cause them to lose their license.
“If they purchased that license prior to leaving Montana as legal resident, it is valid until the expiration date, no matter what they do in North Dakota,” said Ron Jendro of the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department.
The bottom line is, hunters won’t lose their licenses if they vote in North Dakota, whether they have recently moved there or not.