Every summer someone has some crazy idea and wants me to sign a petition to get something on the next ballot. I never sign the first time. I ask them for their explanation. I listen, and I’m usually quite confused after a rambled answer. Most of the signature gatherers are not anything other than a good-hearted person trying to make a few bucks. They are often hired by some back-office, shadowy peddler with an ulterior motive. Those asking for our signature are not trying to pull one over on us. They just want to get paid. But that doesn’t mean feeling bad for them requires me to allow some dumb idea to get on a ballot without doing research.
I have regrets on a few I have signed over the years, but I always err on the side of “It never hurts to let voters decide."
Here is a suggestion when you are approached by someone wanting your name, address and signature: That’s personal information. You don’t need to give it to anyone. They will then bombard you with more junk mail.
They have a duty to give you all of the facts. If they can’t answer the basic questions you ask, just ask for more information. I usually ask for an information sheet to take home. A common answer: “I only have one copy.” Hmmm, that’s odd. Why would they not have some information for me to take home and do some research? That’s a big alarm bell. Bye-bye. Ask a lot of questions. If you don’t like the answers, walk away. Then do your own research so when you are approached the next time, you can sign or say, ”No thanks, bad idea.”
Last week I was approached in Mohall, N.D., at the Bakken Rocks Cook Fest. A delightful young lady in an LA Lakers jersey asked if I would sign her petition. I asked her what it was all about. She said, quite simply, “If you sign this and enough others do as well, at the next election a question will be on the ballot. It will ask voters if it should be as easy as it is currently to change the North Dakota Constitution.” I asked her if she thought it was too easy to change it now. She said, "Heck, yes! Have you seen how long some of the recent changes to our North Dakota Constitution have been?” I agreed. And I signed. General Mike Haugen was a guest on my radio show talking about this recently. Anything Mike is for, I’m generally in total agreement. This is no exception.
- Forum Editorial: North Dakota voters shouldn’t fall for this stunt to weaken their voice
- Letter: There's nothing 'grassroots' about Protect North Dakota's Constitution
- Letter: Don't let them fool you, this is a power grab by Big Business
Meanwhile, a really bad idea will soon be the subject of another paid signature-gathering effort soon. A ballot question regarding term limits for our N.D. governor and legislature is expected. Has there been a problem with either recently? Not according to me. And not to voters, either. They have handed Doug Burgum, Jack Dalrymple, John Hoeven and Ed Schafer resounding victories in nine elections combined.
Republicans have dominated the legislative and statewide positions in North Dakota for decades. The Schafer years in North Dakota started an incredible run of good governance. What’s broken? Property taxes are too high, but that blame goes on school boards and city commissions. And they can do term limits if it suits them.
Don’t be lazy and sign a term limit petition. We have term limits every two years, it’s called elections.
Scott Hennen hosts the statewide radio program “What’s On Your Mind?” On AM 1100 “The Flag”, KFYR AM 550, AM 1090 KTGO “The Flag” and AM 1460 KLTC. Email him at ScottH@FlagFamily.com
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.