Lawsuit Challenges Legality Of North Dakota’s Ban On Election Day Political Speech
Every election cycle I gripe here on the blog about North Dakota’s law prohibiting political speech on election day. Here’s the text from the Century Code:
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.
I don’t necessarily mind the idea of people taking down all the campaign signs on election day. The signs come down, we have the election, and we move on. Admittedly, that’s nice. But clearly it’s not legal, or are other aspects of this law. If I want to talk to my neighbors about who to vote for on election day the law shouldn’t stop me. If I want to keep my signs up endorsing or opposing a candidate, I should be able to do that too. That’s what the 1st amendment means.
Now Gary Emineth, former head of the North Dakota Republican Party, is taking the law to court.
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Former North Dakota Republican chairman Gary Emineth is challenging a state law that bans campaigning on Election Day.
Emineth is asking a federal judge to declare the ban unconstitutional. He says it violates the free-speech rights of all North Dakotans.
Emineth lives in Lincoln, just southeast of Bismarck. He says he wants to talk about the election on Election Day, and he doesn’t want to have to take down the political signs in his yard.
Free speech means free speech, and if there’s any time when that should be more true than other times, it should be election day.
Update: Here’s a copy of the filing: