Enjoy Your Free Speech Today, North Dakotans

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Today my social media streams are filled with exasperated pleas for election season to be over. I can understand that. The ads get tiresome. The mudslinging becomes awful, especially the closer to election day we get.

But setting weariness with the political process aside let’s all be thankful that in North Dakota, for the first time in roughly a century, free speech on election day is still free because this law is no longer in effect thanks to a court injunction earlier this month stemming from a lawsuit challenging the law.

Any person asking, soliciting, or in any manner trying to induce or persuade, any voter on an election day to vote or refrain from voting for any candidate or the candidates or ticket of any political party or organization, or any measure submitted to the people, is guilty of an infraction. The display upon motor vehicles of adhesive signs which are not readily removable and which promote the candidacy of any individual, any political party, or a vote upon any measure, and political advertisements promoting the candidacy of any individual, political party, or a vote upon any measure which are displayed on fixed permanent billboards, may not, however, be deemed a violation of this section.

Most candidates have chosen to abide by custom and taken down their advertising, and asked supporter to take down their campaign signs, though I see that PSC candidate Brad Crabtree has taken advantage of some of the advertising openings to keep internet ads up on the Fargo Forum today.

Good for him. His other Democrats were supportive of this law which is clearly an unconstitutional affront to free speech. I’m glad to see at least one Democrat, however hypocritically, is exercising their speech this day.

So enjoy it, North Dakotans. Democracy is an ugly process, but it’s better than all the alternatives.

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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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