ND Senate Says Petition Circulators Must Be Citizens For Two Years First


We all remember the scandal last year around two initiated measures that were kept off the statewide ballot by petition fraud committed by a group of NDSU football players. That has inspired a number of proposals for reforming the initiated measure process, including SB2183 which got a vote in the Senate today.

Here’s the floor debate, it passed by a 31-16 vote.

The bill is pretty straight forward. If it becomes law, you would have to be a qualified elector (18 years old) and a citizen of the state for two years before you could circulate a petition.

Which means, essentially, that out-of-state groups couldn’t fly in armies of petitioners to get an issue on the ballot.

Given the problems we’ve had with initiated measures in the state, this seems like a common sense reform.

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.

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  • Dustin Gawrylow

    The ballot access folks will challenge it federally and probably win, mostly because it contradicts with North Dakota’s 30-day residency to vote law. It likely violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the generally accepted right to petition one’s government to redress grievances.

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob


      Can you cite any part of any of those laws that relates to circulating petitions?

      • Dustin Gawrylow

        I’m sure the courts will make it up if it’s not already there.

      • Drain52

        If you can vote with 30 days residency, you can certainly gather signatures on voting issues with that same residency.

  • Tundra

    Would it be so difficult for some of these well-funded out-of-state organizations to hire locals as petition circulators? And were all the football players who committed the fraud from out of state? Instead, politically active people who are new to the state are told they don’t have a voice or home here. Sounds a bit cliquish, or am I missing something?

    • http://sayanything.flywheelsites.com Rob

      I guess I don’t see what’s so bad about requiring a bit of buy-in for people who want to change laws in the state.

      If you want to change North Dakota’s laws, I think you should be a little more committed than being a 30 day citizen.

      • Tundra

        But I’ve only lived here about 20 months. We’ve bought a house here, work here, pay taxes here, started a small business here, go to church here, volunteer here. Isn’t that buy-in? Oh, I guess I’m not legit . . . But I will be in 4 more months? Nah.

      • ec99

        Seems that ND is setting up different time periods for different things. How long do you have to register your car and get a license? How long until you pay income taxes? Seems that this 2 year waiting period is just a means of attempting to make petition collection more of a hassle.

        • Tundra

          Yeah, I’m with you ec99. I can pay taxes but I can’t petition? There’s something in history about that, I believe.

          • ec99

            Looks like the result will be you can legally sign a petition but not circulate it. Usual brain dead antics of the Legislature.

  • WOOF

    Some citizens are more equal than others.
    How long do you have to be in state to sign a petition?