MINOT, N.D. — A group calling itself North Dakota Voters First -- they're the folks who call themselves the "badass grandmas" -- has submitted 36,708 signatures to the Secretary of State.
Those signatures are in support of a constitutional amendment which would impact military and overseas voting and election audits as well as create open primaries, instant runoff elections, and massive changes to legislative redistricting, and subdivision of House legislative districts.
Their petitions were approved for circulation back on April 30. Since then 67 days have passed, meaning this group managed, amid a global pandemic, to collect over 547 signatures every single day, seven days a week.
That would be a remarkable feat if we were talking about a grassroots citizen group relying on volunteers, which is the sort of organization most people think of when we talk about initiated measures.
North Dakota Voters First and the "badass grandmas" are not that. They're a front group for out-of-state interests, including a billionaire who got the largest-ever bonus issued by Enron.
They're also not afraid of being dishonest with North Dakota voters, which is ironic given that this same group of people successfully promoted an ethics amendment to the state constitution last cycle. That was back when they were calling themselves North Dakota for Public Integrity.
What a crock.
The NDVF group has been touting their latest amendment as the "Help Heroes Vote Act," with their paid signature collectors only talking about the portion of the measure which creates a slight increase in the amount of time deployed military members have to vote.
This deception happened so frequently, at one point Secretary of State Al Jaeger said his office was receiving complaints "almost every day."
If you signed this petition, thinking you were only backing a law to make military voting easier, you should know that you've been duped. This measure would turn over the redistricting process to the newly-formed ethics commission and completely obliterate our current process for filling elected office by creating open primaries and ranked-choice voting statewide.
Maybe you support some of those things, and maybe you don't, but either way, people asked to sign these petitions shouldn't have been misled as to what they were signing.
Though the most audacious deception may be the very name of this group. "North Dakota Voters First" leaves you with the impression that this group represents North Dakotans, yet the group has so far been funded exclusively by activist groups in Massachusetts, Colorado, and Texas.
The group has already well over a quarter-million dollars, no doubt to fund the paid petitioners. Of that total, $150,000 has come from the Action Now Initiative which was founded by Enron billionaire John Arnold. The rest has come from Represent.us and Unite America.
Why do these left-wing groups care so much about North Dakota's election laws?
Probably because North Dakotans elect a lot of Republicans. These groups, given their ideological alignments, would no-doubt like elect more Democrats, and since that's unlikely to happen under the status quo, they're looking to change the rules of the game.
And they're not even willing to be honest with North Dakota voters about it.
Here's a full copy of the measure as it was supposed to have been circulated:
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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.