Without naming any sources or providing specific examples, Rob Port made several unsubstantiated observations about the operations of the Secretary of State's office in his column published Nov. 1. He claims that I have made mistakes that make me vulnerable for re-election.
Port's first claim was related to "lost" candidate paperwork. During the 24 statewide elections occurring since 1993 while I have served as the state's chief election official, there was one incident four election cycles ago when a mistake occurred. Each day, my office receives hundreds of pieces of mail and in the opening of that mail, a candidate's filing inadvertently became attached to a business document. On the other hand, we have received positive feedback regarding the Vote.ND.Gov election website that provides comprehensive voter information and the hits have been astronomical on the election night reporting of results.
His second claim is that I have mishandled ballot initiatives. During my tenure in office, approximately 80 initiative petitions have been submitted. I do not recall a petition that was not processed according to state law and when challenged in court, our decisions have been upheld each time. It has been done correctly to protect the rights of the petitioners and the rights of the voters in knowing that the petitions were lawfully circulated. This diligence resulted in uncovering petition fraud in 1994, 2006 and two in 2012.
While I am pleased with what has been accomplished, I am more excited about the future. Next year, a new online business and license filing system will be launched that will provide efficiencies and benefits to the thousands of filers who interact with my office each year. That project is on time and under budget. This new system will complement the online Uniform Commercial Code and other lien filing system in place for the past nineteen months. Both systems will enhance business growth for new and established businesses in the state." When the new online system is launched, resources will be redirected to provide services for the public and entrepreneurs that are not currently possible. The opportunity to do that will raise the agency to ever higher levels of service for the people of North Dakota. Along with my dedicated staff, I want to make that happen.
Jaeger is North Dakota’s secretary of state.