MINOT, N.D. - Recently, incumbent Sen. Heidi Heitkamp accused North Dakota lawmakers of working to suppress the votes of college students and Native American citizens.
The State of North Dakota has been, despite legal challenges, largely successful in implementing a strong ID requirement at the ballot box while closing a loophole which let thousands of voters cast ballots which count with only an affidavit in previous elections.
But Heitkamp charges that these efforts were inherently nefarious.
In an interview with Forum News Service reporter John Hageman, the embattled senator, plagued with declining approval ratings amid her first Senate campaign, said our state's voter ID laws "clearly target" students and Indians.
"I think that this was the North Dakota Legislature taking a problem that is being alleged in another part of the country and checking a box on legislation that we didn't need," Heitkamp said.
If the senator had any concerns about the state's reforms to voter ID requirements prior to her name being on the ballot, I can't seem to find them in the public record.
Which is perhaps a window into the motivations behind Democratic rhetoric about voter ID laws.
If Heitkamp's concerns about North Dakota's election laws were sincere, and not an election year gambit, one might have expected the senator to use her bully pulpit to speak out about them when they were being debated in the Legislature. Or perhaps during the 2016 election cycle.
If the senator had anything to say then it must have been awfully quiet.
I should say, at this point, that I do believe the State of North Dakota could do better in ensuring all citizens have reasonable access to their franchise. While I support strong ID requirements at the polls, I'd like to see greater outreach to get ID's into the hands of people meager means. Or people in rural areas.
Perhaps we could create a sort of mobile Motor Vehicle Division office to travel the state on a set schedule and bring those services into rural communities.
Speaking of the MVD, we also need to do something about the loophole that is the online address change process. Democratic Secretary of State candidate Josh Boschee, who is no friend of voter ID laws, has pointed out to me that right now you can go to the MVD website right now and change your address to whatever you'd like it to be - including an area where you might like to vote fraudulently.
He's got a point. It's not clear what protections we have in place to protect against that sort of malfeasance.
Those issues aside, I think it's clear that Democratic rhetoric about the voter ID issue has its roots less in concerns over access to voting than in a desire to cast Republicans as villains for the purposes of rallying left wing voters.
The monsters don't want you to vote, the Democrats tell us, so get out and vote against the monsters.
The debate over protecting the ballot box deserves something better than that.
Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, a North Dakota political blog, is a Forum Communications commentator. Follow him on Twitter at @RobPort