North Dakota Ballot Measure Will Make Initiatives More Difficult

Mon, Jun 9 2014 by Neal Hobson

On tomorrow’s statewide primary ballot in North Dakota is Measure 1, a constitutional amendment that would cut 30 days from the signature gathering period, by making the petition deadline 120 days prior to the general election, rather than the current 90 days.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger brought the measure to the legislature in 2013, and a bipartisan majority of legislators jumped at the idea, with 64 percent of Senators and 85 percent in the House voting to put Measure 1 on the ballot.  Jaeger argued the measure will “safeguard the credibility of the petition process.”

But changing the deadline just so happens out cut out the very most important signature-gathering opportunity for initiative sponsors: the North Dakota state fair in Minot, which typically is held in the latter half of July. Dustin Gawrylow, managing director of the conservative North Dakota Watchdog Network, points out that about 25 percent of petition signatures are gathered at the state fair.

“We know that the effect of this law will be to stymie the public’s ability to petition its government,” Gawrylow said.

Citizens in Charge urges a NO vote on Measure 1.

The initiative and referendum process has a long history in the Roughrider State. Citizens have been able to keep the state legislature in check since 1914, placing 261 initiative measures on the ballot via petitions in the 100 year tenure of the process. Measure 1 is an unnecessary reduction in the ability of citizens to petition their government.