Two initiated measures won't be on the November ballot, after the Secretary of State's office said thousands of signatures gathered for petitions were copied from phone books or simply made up.
Initiatives for making medical marijuana use legal in North Dakota and for creating a Clean Water, Lands and Outdoor Heritage Fund will not be voted on this year after Secretary of State Al Jaeger's office threw out thousands of signatures. Charges against 11 people, included eight members of the North Dakota State University football team, will be filed against people who collected signatures. They will be charged with filing false statements or facilitation of voter fraud, according to Jaeger and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Workers gathered some 37,785 signatures for the conservation fund initiative, but 17,034 signatures were deemed invalid after an investigation. That left the measure far below the needed amount of signatures to make it onto the November ballot.
We're happy to see that the system of checks and balances works in?North Dakota. Jaeger's office should be commended for ferreting out the bogus signatures. Jaeger has said his staff takes its duty of verifying information for ballot petitions seriously, and this investigation proves he's right. The citizen petition process is part of what makes North?Dakota unique, and fraudulent activities that result in bogus names being included cannot be tolerated. Voters must be able to trust that ballot questions put before them are the result of a fair and legitimate signature-gathering process. If allegations are proven, those charged deserve to be punished.