Forum Editorial: North Dakota has no business telling other states how to run their elections

In a democracy, voters choose their leaders, not judges. And the voters spoke in support of President-elect Joe Biden over Trump. This lawsuit was frivolous, but will damage our democracy by undermining faith in elections.

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North Dakota, thanks to Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, has disgraced itself by supporting a lawsuit that sought to reject the votes of millions of voters in four battleground states and overturn the presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.

This is an outrageous affront to our democracy. It’s a political stunt that had no chance of succeeding -- indeed, it was summarily rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court -- but it will damage our democracy by contributing to efforts by Trump and his supporters to undermine faith in our elections.

In a democracy, voters choose their leaders, not judges. And the voters spoke in support of President-elect Joe Biden over Trump. Biden got 7 million more votes than Trump. He also won 306 electoral votes, well above the 270 required to win the presidency.

The results of the presidential race now have been certified by all 50 states. This election is over and Trump lost, period, in a free and fair election. The U.S. Supreme Court's rejection of the lawsuit now assures the Electoral College will elect Biden on Monday.

Despite the outrageous claims of Trump and his lackeys, there has been absolutely no evidence of widespread fraud. Lawsuit after lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign has been tossed out of court.


Among Trump’s many courtroom losses, the U.S. Supreme Court refused earlier to even consider a lawsuit by his campaign seeking to allow the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania legislature to block Biden’s victory in that battleground state.

Then came the latest frivolous lawsuit, filed by Texas and joined by 17 other states with Republican attorneys general, including North Dakota. The emergency lawsuit asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

In essence, states including North Dakota went to court to tell other states how they should run their elections. Executives in the four states, in the midst of the worst public health crisis in a century, issued orders to accommodate mail-in voting.

Across the United States, almost half of the votes were mailed in during the November election, an unprecedented number spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump, who not surprisingly also supported the lawsuit filed by Texas, isn’t even trying to sustain the fiction of widespread election fraud. Now he blatantly advocates thwarting the will of the voters. In a tweet this week, Trump blared: #OVERTURN.

There is an effort to steal the presidential election, and Trump is its center.

That’s the dishonorable effort that Stenehjem signed on to support. Stenehjem told reporters that his office has received “thousands” of calls in support of the Texas lawsuit. Even if true, that’s a ludicrous reason for joining a lawsuit that aimed to drive a stake through the heart of our election process.

Stenehjem should be ashamed at the poor judgment he’s displayed, elevating rank partisan gamesmanship over the democratic process. He sounded oddly nonchalant in justifying his support of the lawsuit, which he acknowledged was a longshot. His office was careful, he said, to ensure that the brief didn’t take a stand on allegations of election fraud.


"The Supreme Court should look at the allegations, determine if there's any merit to them," he said. "And if not, they should dismiss the petition and finalize the matter once and for all."

The lawsuit was predictably dismissed. But, in the minds of millions of gullible voters, the matter won’t be finalized once and for all, thanks to tactics like the one Stenehjem lent his name to, and that of North Dakota.

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