Democrats Apparently Broke ND Campaign Laws With GOTV Effort

heitkamp-ap-photo

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 SayAnythingBlog.com. 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. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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