MINOT, N.D. — Across the state, North Dakota voters are receiving and filling out vote-by-mail ballots for the June primary election. For partisan statewide races, those ballots will decide which candidates will represent each political party on the November ballot.
In the race for insurance commissioner, there's not much drama. Neither Republican incumbent Jon Godfread, nor Democratic challenger Travisia Martin, are facing competition for the nomination from their respective parties.
But Martin, specifically, may have an issue with whether or not she's even allowed to legally be on the June ballot.
Article V, Section 4 of the North Dakota Constitution addresses the eligibility requirements for statewide elected offices, including insurance commissioner. Among other things, someone running for those offices must have been a resident of North Dakota for five years preceding their election to office.
This may be a problem for Martin.
Earlier this year, Martin announced on Facebook that she would begin using her "natural birth name." She had previously gone by Travisia Minor.
According to Martin's LinkedIn page, she previously lived in Las Vegas. Also, the phone number she provided to the North Dakota Secretary of State's office has a Nevada area code.
According to the state of Nevada, one Travisia Minor of Las Vegas voted there in several elections, including the 2016 presidential election.
To vote in Nevada in 2016, Martin would have to be a resident of Nevada. Which means she couldn't have been a resident of North Dakota in 2016.
Which means she wouldn't meet the state constitution's requirement of five years of residency.
I reached out to Martin by phone, and she confirmed that both her full name and address are correct in Nevada's records system, and she acknowledged being a past resident of Las Vegas and registered voter in Nevada, but she denied having cast a ballot there in 2016.
"I am a resident of North Dakota," she told me. "I have already cleared up my residency issues with the Secretary of State's office."
She then declined further comment at that time, though hours after that initial conversation Martin called me again, along with her campaign manager, to provide further comment. She said she "absolutely" voted in Nevada in 2016. She said she has worked as a traveling nurse for years and has residences in multiple states. "I have a right to vote wherever I want to," she said.
She said she chose to vote in Nevada in 2016 because she wasn't clear at that time on North Dakota's voting requirements. "It was easier for me to just go back to Nevada to vote," she said.
I should note that the affidavit statewide candidates must fill out to run for office asks them to acknowledge they "have reviewed the requirements to hold the office identified above and certify" and are eligible to serve.
According to sources close to the North Dakota Republican Party, they plan to challenge Martin's eligibility. They provided me with a letter which will be sent to the Secretary of State's office today asking for a review.
"Given this evidence, we ask the North Dakota Secretary of State’s office to confirm that Ms. Travisia Martin has been a resident of North Dakota for five years preceding the November 9, 2020 election day," the letter states. "To satisfy this requirement, Ms. Martin would have needed to be a North Dakota resident from at least November 9, 2015 through November 9, 2020."
You can read the letter in full below.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.