Secretary of State rejects term limits petitions | News, Sports, Jobs – Minot Daily News

Mar 23, 2022
The North Dakota Secretary of State has rejected most of the signatures on term limit petitions, citing discrepancies believed to violate state law.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Tuesday that the number of signatures approved is inadequate to advance the measure to the ballot. The matter has been turned over to the Attorney General for investigation, as the Secretary of State is required by law to do when irregularities are alleged.
Of the 46,366 signatures submitted on 1,441 petition documents on Feb. 15, Jaeger’s office rejected 29,101. The remaining 17,265 signatures are 13,899 short of the 31,164 required to place an initiated measure on the ballot. A statutory initiative requires voter signatures equal to 4% of the state’s population.
The proposed measure aimed to change the North Dakota Constitution to limit the governor to two four-year terms and legislators to no more than 16 years, with a cap of eight years in the House and eight years in the Senate. The proposed measure required that any amendment to the term limit provision come only by citizen initiative.
Jaeger listed the reasons for rejecting signatures as:
– Several signatures of circulators were likely forged on affidavits in the presence of a notary public. All affidavits attached to 751 petitions that included 15,740 signatures notarized by this notary were not counted.
– Some circulators were not North Dakota qualified voters as required, and some were not U.S. citizens.
– A sampling of the 87 circulators indicated that several were offered, or paid, bonuses based on the number of signatures they obtained, which is prohibited by law.
– Petitions included a significant number of signatures from residents of other states.
– Thousands of signatures failed to meet the requirement for both name and complete address, as witnessed by the circulator.
The Secretary of State’s Office reported 15,777 signatures were rejected due to notary errors and 10,614 signatures were rejected because of inadequate signatures, such as lacking a first or last name, signing the petition twice, signing before the approved circulation date or after notarization of the document, signing for another person, failing to print a name as required by law or circulators were paid for signatures gathered. Notary errors can include forgetting to stamp a document, failing to complete the required notary information, not signing the document or writing a wrong expiration date for one’s notary qualification.
Another 1,654 petitions were rejected because of address omissions; 371 signatures were on undated petitions; and 75 signatures were on petitions not circulated in their entirety.
Jared Hendrix of Minot, who chairs the sponsoring committee, issued the following statement late Tuesday: “We are deeply disappointed in the Secretary of State’s decision to exercise unprecedented and unconstitutional discretion to dismiss the signatures of thousands of North Dakotans who support term limits. Polling shows that term limits for North Dakota legislators and the governor have overwhelming support amongst the people, with 82% favorability. Term limits realigns political power back to the people, and away from the political class, bureaucrats, and lobbyists, who can develop destructive relationships with long-serving legislators. We filed over 46,000 signatures in support of this effort, clearly demonstrating massive support across the state. We will pursue every legal avenue for challenging this decision out of respect to the wide swath of North Dakotans who want term limits, and to protect the integrity of our initiated measure process.”
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