Democrats Apparently Broke ND Campaign Laws With GOTV Effort


Just before the election I noted a tweet sent out by Senator-elect Heidi Heitkamp’s campaign urging voters to call a hot line if they needed a ride to the polls.

I speculated that this ride-to-the-polls program might well be in violation of North Dakota election laws which make it pretty clear that paying to transport people to the polls is illegal:

The word I heard from Democrats, though, is that this program wasn’t illegal because those providing the rides to the polls were all volunteers. Fair enough. But yesterday a reader sent me a link to this Craigslist ad offering to pay drivers to take voters to the polls, “Helping Democrats like Heidi Heitkamp get elected.” The pay is up to $170/day for two days (Monday and Tuesday) and it offers a phone number to call with a ND area code (see screen capture below).

Calling the phone number brings one to a recorded message indicating that you’ve reached Fieldwork Job Recruitment and that the jobs/service center they had available is now closed. An internet search for the phone numbers indicates that it may be a forwarding number hosted by Google’s Voice service, and also turned another Craigslist ad for political canvassers to work in the Bismarck area.

It’s unclear whether Democrats contracted with this organization to recruit and pay volunteers (that’s likely as North Dakota Democrats, being a thoroughly marginalized party in the state, routinely resort to paying “volunteers), but whoever hired the organization it’s pretty clear they broke the law.

We can debate about whether or not the law broken is a good one, but it’s on the books. And I think laws should be enforced. Even bad laws, so that they can be tested in the courts and/or struck down by citizens and their elected representatives if they don’t like the enforcement.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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  • Roy_Bean

    Now there you go again….it isn’t breaking the law if democrats do this because they care about women and minorities. This law only applies to slum lord, church burning, misogynistic Republicans. This might move the ticker to Heidi Lied #3 and she hasn’t even been sworn in yet.

    • Tim Heise

      no one cares about election law anyway. Isn’t that right NDSU Football?

    • The Revealer

      Roy. It isn’t breaking the law if democrats do this because they care about
      women and minorities. This law only applies to slum lord, church
      burning, misogynistic Republicans.

      • Pete

        Says tiny, little Mikey Quinn.

  • RCND

    Of course nothing will happen.

    • The Revealer

      Of course.

  • john

    Hummm, seems to me you had a field day blasting US Attorney Tim Purdone for electing to prosecute on the water fowl law a few months back Rob. I don’t recall you supporting that law. Quite the contrary, Rob; you blasted Tim Purdone for days. Talk about a double standard.

    • Rob

      I seem to remember using Mr. Purdon’s despicable and partisan driven prosecution as a jumping off point for point out the stupidity of the Migratory Birds Treaty Act. Not to mention the hypocrisy in prosecuting oil companies for dead birds, but not wind power companies.

      But this is what you do when you can’t win a debate about the topic at hand, right? Shoot the messenger.

      • ellinas1

        Fact remains that you, in that case, you did not express the same sentiment youy are now expressing.

        • Rob

          No, I’m being entirely consistent.

          • ellinas1

            No, you are being entirely inconsistent.

      • bubba

        Dude’s correct rob, you are hypocrite.

        • Rob

          Says the internet troll.

          Then law says what it says, and they did what they did.

      • Anonymous

        When it comes to attacking Dems, looks like you’ll ‘say anything’

        • Rob

          Or it could be that I’m pointing out that the law was, in fact, broken.

          • Guest

            Assuming that Democrats were paying people to drive people to the polls (which isn’t exactly supported by the the ad), the law refers only to expenses, meaning the money and costs directly spent on transportation. So unless they were cutting checks for gas pump bills, no. You seem to think the law says no being paid while providing transportation to the polls, but if that were the case an employer would be on the hook if a salaried employee or one on the clock went to the polls. Taxis and bus drivers would be breaking the law too under that interpretation of the law. Unless somebody is getting renumeration specifically to defray the cost of getting someone to or from the poll the law was not broken. Maybe it’s a loophole, but by limiting it to expenses for transportation, it’s pretty clear that even if a party was paying people for their time to drive to the polls, the law was not broken.

    • Roy_Bean

      John or Joel?? Tim Purdon was prosecuting oil companies who were drilling legally because ducks died in their holding ponds. He wasn’t prosecuting electric companies whose windmills are killing bald eagles, he wasn’t prosecuting people who hit a duck with their car, he was selectively prosecuting oil companies. That would be like an officer charging you with hunting deer without a license because you hit one with your car. But in typical democrat fashion you don’t let facts interfere with your argument.

    • exsanguine

      gawd you are a fuggin moron.

    • Tim Heise

      That law? I guess the Judges that thru out the case weren’t supporting the law either then?

  • WOOF

    Payments were probably made by a 501cm or some other
    kind of non-profit educational non-political organization.
    Not a person paying a person. This was a civic educational endeavor.

    The law sounds to me like it is intended to keep people

    from giving a voter a monetary reimbursement for voting.

    I used to kiss her on the lips,
    But it’s all over now.

    • RCND

      Don’t need that vision…

    • Rob

      The law Is very clear. It says what it says, not what you feel it says.

  • grandma

    Nothing will happen,even if she says yes I did that.After all she is Heidi and has a bother in radio. They both are above the law and now it will get worst than ever,and when she votes right down the political line, her letters to those of us that question her votes will be the same as the other 3( Conrad,Dorgan, Palmroy) were, We did what we felt was the best for North Dakota, when you understand my vote you will agree with me. All she will have to do is change the name on the bottom of the letter.

  • Dakotacyr

    Except for Obamacare, right?

    • Rob

      You seem to be forgetting that the law and the supreme Court gives the states the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion and the exchanges.

      • Guest

        Opt out running their own exchange, not whether an exchange will be run in their state.

  • bubba


    nothing in that ad (which you have failed to tie to much of anything) discusses taking voters to voting precincts. sociopath.

    • Rob

      So seeing an ad to hire drivers to get out the vote and noting that such a thing is against the law makes me a sociopath?

      I would think someone working in public education would have a firmer grasp on word definitions.

      • bubba

        rob, I am not that one. I am the one who might sue you for the snooping. go drink a dew.

        • bubba

          I can see why your dad fired you, bro! relax and have a sense of humor.

          • Rob

            I’ve never been fitted from a job in my life, cupcake.


  • bubba

    meanwhile, your constitution party (read neo posse comitatus) friend runs for judicial office while espousing anti tax measure two in clear violation of the nd juicial code of ethics and files a bs lawsuit which she was, according to her sworn allegation, a defendant. why don’t you care about her judicial infidelity?

    • Rob

      I have no idea who or what you’re talking about, or what that had to do with Measure 2.

      • bubba

        you are unwilling to understand or incappable of understanding why calling something wrong in one instance while ignoring another, based on a law or rule, is hypocritical. when proven wrong, you make excuses or divert like a sociopath. so….. how was thanksgiving?!

        • Rob

          I still don’t think you know what sociopath means.

          And I’m being entirely consistent. I criticized Purdon for prosecuting oil companies but not oil companies, a decision that was obviously partisan.

          • bubba

            point I am making is election law violations, muffinboo! you care in this instance, but not when a candidate for judge might have done something questionable. humble pie might be the only kind you don’t eat, hence sociopath.

          • bubba

            Let me spell it out … alleged election law violations by dems and ndsu bad , alleged same plus judicial ethics rules violation by constitution party chair no acknowledgement. that’s the point.

  • ndoldman

    time to start doing what the dems have done ,we can turn into DINO’s get their cash, votes and turn on the suporters just as the rinos have.

  • C. Y.
  • Guest

    1. Expense means that they are reimbursed for specific out of pocket costs, e.g. paying the gas bill. The ad doesn’t say they will pay for that expense, but rather instead for the volunteer’s time and labor.

    2. Nowhere in the ad does it say they will be driving people to and from the polls.

  • Stuart

    Just to let you know, I signed upto volunteer to help the Republicans get out he vote for BERG, and KRAMER. THE REPUBLICANS NEVER RESPONDED. THE SAME THING HAPPENED IN 2008 except this time I went down to he HDQRS on main Ave. The place was in such disarray. That I was embarrassed. No one knew where the yard signs were, and they didn’t give me instructions on picking up voters who needed rides. I guess they must have thought that Republicans had it pretty much sowed up!


  • Mike Peterson

    Yeah, I’ve also seen flyers Dems/Heidi posted around UND campus offering kids money to do their dirty work on election day. Should have kept the flyer.

  • ladyknownaslou

    I agree that we need to go after those who violate campaign laws! If we don’t hold our LAWMAKERS accountable, we lose the rule of law itself. Now, this cuts both ways. If we are going to cal out the Democrats on this we need to clean our own house as well. If there is reason to believe there wrongdoing, we must at least investigate so as to dismiss or prosecute on these alleged violations. We might investigate and find no wrongdoing, or we might uncover illegalities. Either way, we must make the effort. You know what I mean. If we wink at abuse of the law in one instance we can expect violation in the next.

  • Don Quixote

    Wait a second. Does anyone have proof that a driver was paid to transport a voter to the polls? While it’s possible that that is the intent of the add, it doesn’t say so specifically. It’s also possible the drivers would be used to transport people to places to work on getting out the vote.
    Based on what you have presented, you have no case.