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North Dakota voting rights group submits proposal for ballot measure

North Dakota Voters First, a Fargo-based group, is the sponsoring committee of the proposal.

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BISMARCK -- A proposal for a statewide petition in regard to voting rights was submitted to the North Dakota Secretary of State's office on Friday, March 6.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger said in a release that his office has received the proposal, which is the first step to possibly putting the issue before the voters as a ballot measure in the Nov. 3 general election.

Jaeger's office and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem's office will review the submission and must issue a petition title no earlier than Friday, March 13, and no later than Tuesday, March 17.

North Dakota Voters First, a Fargo-based group, is the sponsoring committee of the proposal. In its own press release, the group said there are four provisions in the proposal that will better serve North Dakota voters.

If approved, the measure would require all voting machines to produce a paper record of every vote cast, require random audits of election results and also allow North Dakota military-overseas voters more time to cast their ballots.


The measure also would move the state to an open primary election system, where all candidates are listed on a single ballot. The four candidates who receive the most votes then advance to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. If no candidate then secures a majority of the vote in the general election, an instant runoff will be held.

The measure also changes how legislative political boundaries are drawn. Instead of being done at the Legislature, political district maps would be done by the North Dakota Ethics Commission, a citizen-led group.

“This measure will strengthen election security, increase voter choice, and prevent voting districts from being drawn by politicians for their benefit’’ said Lois Altenburg, a spokesperson for North Dakota Voters First.

The committee said it expects to begin collecting the 26,904 signatures needed to place the item on the November ballot once the Secretary of State's office completes its review.

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