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North Dakota may have to end ban on Election Day campaigning

October 31, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
I believe in free speech even when it hurts, but I have to admit this one hurts. Today a federal judge blocked North Dakota's law against campaigning on Election Day.

The law has meant blessed silence on the airwaves when the first Tuesday in November rolls around. Home owners and businesses have always been required to take down their yard signs and candidates are forbidden from running campaign ads. The penalty for violating the law is a $500 fine.

But, according to the Associated Press, former North Dakota Republican state chairman Gary Emineth sued to challenge the law and today Judge Daniel Hovland granted a preliminary injunction preventing the law from being enforced. The AP says that the Legislature will probably be asked to repeal the law altogether during the 2013 session.

I suppose this means we can expect to hear a barrage of campaign ads and receive phone calls from different groups right up until polls close on the 6th. I've received more than my share of calls from pollsters and special interest groups in the past few weeks. I no longer answer the questions. Instead, I say curtly "I'm not interested" and hang up before they can launch into their spiel.

But if I believe in free speech even when I find the speech annoying -- and I do -- I have to acknowledge that I always thought North Dakota's Election Day ban on campaigning was probably a violation of the First Amendment. I just have enjoyed the benefits of the law too much to protest it.

 
 

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