MINOT, N.D. — Since a proposed constitutional amendment — financed by left-wing groups based in other states and aimed at changing our elections to the point of being almost unrecognizable — was approved for the statewide ballot this week, my inbox and social media feeds have been full of people expressing regret.
"I can't believe I signed that thing," one reader told me.
The amendment in question will be Measure 3 in November if a legal challenge to its eligibility is unsuccessful (more on that in a moment). In the meantime, many, many North Dakotans who signed the petition for it are now feeling duped.
The proponents of the measure have touted it as the Help Heroes Vote Act because one tiny part of it does expand the voting window for deployed military.
The use of that title is so deceptive as to be nearly fraudulent.
The measure would do away with the existing primary process. It would reduce your representation in the state House by half. It would replace our current voting method with ranked-choice ballots. Elections would be settled by spreadsheets instead of vote counts. It would mandate open primaries, violating your constitutional right to associate with a political party.
And yet, many of the folks who signed the petitions say they had no idea about these other parts of the measure. They were told they were helping heroes vote.
The frustration is palpable on Facebook, where a group formed just this last week, called North Dakota Against Measure 3, already has about 8,000 members. The posts in that group are full of angry North Dakota voters who feel deceived.
"It's completely disingenuous to trick people into signing a petition through deception, using our military members as a bargaining chip and distraction," one group member wrote.
"They cheated and lied to the people who signed the petition," another wrote.
"I chewed a guy out that was telling an older gentleman in a VET hat about how it was just to help the military vote. I told the guy the signature gatherer was not telling him the other stuff, and told him there was a lot more to it," yet another wrote. "The guy collecting signatures tried to argue with me and say that was it. I again told them both he was lying, and thankfully the older man left without signing."
Which brings me to the lawsuit.
A group of past and present members of the military, including Mike Haugen, former Adjutant General of the North Dakota National, has filed a petition with the state Supreme Court asking that this measure be kept off the ballot.
The state constitution requires proposed measures to be circulated for signatures in their complete form. The petitioners to the court said that didn't happen.
Based on the number of North Dakotans now saying they feel deceived, it sure seems like they have a point.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.