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Published July 01, 2010, 12:00 AM

Libertarian candidate mistakenly sent nomination notice

BISMARCK – A mistake in the North Dakota secretary of state’s office led to a Libertarian candidate being told he qualified for the November ballot when he didn’t.

BISMARCK – A mistake in the North Dakota secretary of state’s office led to a Libertarian candidate being told he qualified for the November ballot when he didn’t.

Richard Ames of Wahpeton recently received a notice of nomination from Secretary of State Al Jaeger that his name would be placed on the November ballot.

But Ames’ eight votes for state senator in District 25 were not enough to allow the Libertarian candidate to advance to the next election.

Jaeger said his office’s system created a certificate for anyone who was a winner in the June primary. Because Ames was the only Libertarian candidate competing in his race, he was deemed a winner even though he didn’t have enough votes under law to advance

A staff employee did not catch Ames’ certificate to remove it from the pile of about 175 certificates to be signed, Jaeger said.

Ames called the office Tuesday to inquire about receiving the certificate and was told what happened, Jaeger said.

Another primary election incident occurred when Jaeger’s office misplaced the paperwork of Libertarian Public Service Commission candidate Josh Voytek, resulting in the candidate not being listed on the ballot.

After Jaeger consulted with Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, they decided to include Voytek’s name on the November ballot.

Jaeger’s election opponent, Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, said he’s looking into what improvements he can make to the office if elected.

Mock said he’s concerned that the election system is operated by a computer system with little or no oversight from the secretary of state.

“There seems to be no checks and balances in the office, and these mistakes are happening,” he said. “Right now, it seems to be one on top of the other.”

Ames said Wednesday that he was surprised to get the certificate and knew something was wrong. He said mistakes happen, but the secretary of state’s office exists for the sole purpose of managing paperwork and documents.

As for the certificate, Ames said he’s going to keep it as a souvenir.


Finneman is a multimedia reporter for Forum Communications Co.

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