BISMARCK — Amid accusations that she is not an eligible candidate, Travisia Martin, the Democratic-NPL nominee for North Dakota insurance commissioner, spoke to The Forum on Thursday, June 25, and asserted that she meets the conditions to run for office.
The North Dakota Republican Party announced this week that it would legally challenge Martin's candidacy and alleged that she did not meet the state's residency requirements for the elected position. The insurance commissioner must be a North Dakota resident for at least five years before the election to the position, according to the state's constitution.
Martin said she's lived in North Dakota for five years, and said she voted in Nevada's general election in 2016 and had a home in the state at the time, but she was renting it to another person. She said she voted in Nevada because she was registered and it seemed easier to vote there than in North Dakota, the only state without voter registration.
According to Nevada's voter registration form, "Every citizen of the United States who is 17 years of age or older but less than 18 years of age and has continuously resided in this state for 30 days or longer may preregister to vote by any of the means available for a person to register to vote pursuant to Nevada law."
Applicants must also sign and date a portion of the form that includes, "I will have continuously resided in Nevada at least 30 days in my county and at least 10 days in my precinct before the next election at which I intend to vote. The residential address listed herein is my sole legal place of residence and I claim no other place as my legal residence."
It's now up to a court to decide whether she is a viable candidate, according to North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger. The Republican said he cannot make a decision on the matter or remove her name from the ballot.
State GOP spokesperson Alexandra Wilkes said that the party has obtained an attorney for legal challenges and is launching a "fact-finding mission" because voters have a right to know if a candidate is eligible.
Martin is a traveling health care provider who has worked across North Dakota, the U.S. and abroad. She said she's running for office to help provide better health care policies to all North Dakotans, especially those with preexisting conditions.
"Some of the issues that I've seen in health care is just downright criminal and somebody needs to stand up and help the people of the state to have better services and providers so they can get what they need," Martin said.
In a letter to Martin last month, Jaeger requested that she prove her residency for the required five years.
Earlier this week, the North Dakota Republican Party incorrectly stated in a news release and The Forum then reported that Martin had not submitted the requested information. However, Jaeger confirmed he received her response Friday, June 19.
Martin said she understands why people are questioning her residency, and she knew about the requirements when she filed to run.
"I am not a politician. I am a health care provider," Martin said. "This is a bipartisan issue... This is about health care for the people of the state of North Dakota."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Michelle Griffith, a Report for America corps member, at firstname.lastname@example.org.