ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Port: Secretary of State asks Democratic candidate for more information about her residency

In a letter sent to Martin, and copied to state Democratic chairwoman Kylie Oversen, Secretary of State Al Jaeger requests that Martin provide "relevant information" regarding her "status as a resident of North Dakota for the required five years."

patriot's day proclamation 5-15-19
As Patriots' Day proponent Jim Shaw looks on, North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger, right, and Gov. Doug Burgum sign off on a proclamation declaring it Patriots' Day in North Dakota Monday, April 15, 2019. John Hageman / Forum News Service
We are part of The Trust Project.

MINOT, N.D. — Travisia Martin is the North Dakota Democratic-NPL's candidate for Insurance Commissioner this election cycle, challenging incumbent Republican Jon Godfread.

She's also got some serious residency issues. The North Dakota constitution requires five consecutive years of residency in the state for someone wishing to hold a public office like Insurance Commissioner.

Per the State of Nevada's voting records, Martin cast a ballot there in November of 2016. To do so she had to attest that she was a resident of that state, which makes her claim that she was a resident of North Dakota for the last five years pretty hard to countenance.

Martin has been aware of these residency issues for some time now — I spoke with her about them on May 20 — but so far she has remained in the race.

Now the Secretary of State's office is looking into the matter. In a letter sent to Martin, and copied to state Democratic chairwoman Kylie Oversen, Secretary of State Al Jaeger requests that Martin provide "relevant information" regarding her "status as a resident of North Dakota for the required five years."

ADVERTISEMENT

The letter doesn't specify what sort of information, specifically, Martin should be turn over. Jaeger's letter was prompted by an inquiry to him from the North Dakota Republican Party about Martin's eligibility. I assume his letter is an invitation for Martin to get her side of the story on the record.

Though, at this point, given both the records from Nevada and Martin's own admission that she voted there, it seems clear cut that she doesn't meet the residency requirement.

As I mentioned in a column last week , this provision in North Dakota law has been enforced before. In 1935 the state Supreme Court removed a sitting governor from office — Thomas H. Moodie, a Democrat — because it was revealed that he had voted in a municipal election in Minnesota during the five years previous to his being elected governor.

The lieutenant governor at the time took over the term Moodie was elected to.

Suffice it to say, this is not a trivial issue.

It will be interesting to see how the state's officials handle this. Right now Martin doesn't hold any office yet. She's only campaigning. In 1935, Moodie was removed after taking office.

Will our officials decide to wait and see if Martin gets elected before acting on her eligibility? Jaeger said in a recent interview that he has no authority to remove Martin from the ballot.

ADVERTISEMENT

But why should someone who is not eligible be present on the ballot, taking votes away from other potential candidates? Martin is running unopposed for the Democratic nomination on the June ballot, but there is still a chance an independent candidate could emerge in this race for the November ballot.

People who do not meet our state's qualifications for a given public office should not be allowed to be on the ballot for that office.

It would be nice to see Martin and the North Dakota Democratic-NPL act with some integrity, admit their mistake, and cancel this campaign.

As it stands, with their reticence to be accountable, we're destined for the bureaucratic route.

To comment on this article, visit www.sayanythingblog.com

Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at rport@forumcomm.com .

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
What to read next
The proposed 8.5% increase for Cass County employees would require raising property taxes by $3 million. It's appalling that the Cass County Commission is even considering raising taxes while families are themselves struggling with inflation.
Despite the Greater North Dakota Chamber being the single largest financial supporter of an attempt to make it harder to pass citizen-led initiated measures, oil and coal interests were right behind.