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Time to modernize elections in ND

Lois Ivers Altenburg, Fargo

The North Dakota State Constitution states, “All political power is inherent in the people. Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people, and they have a right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require”.

I uphold the values held within the State Constitution that reflect our trust in the judgment of our citizens. We must secure and preserve the rights of our citizens. For these reasons I support the North Dakota Voters First proposed ballot measure.

For over fifty years I have worked with the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan civic engagement organization that encourages informed and active participation in government.

I have run for nonpartisan offices. I have also run for office as a Republican and been a delegate to Republican state conventions.

North Dakota Voters First is a grassroots group of North Dakotans, from all across the state and all across the political spectrum, working to place a measure on the November ballot that would secure and modernize our elections. This homegrown group started with 32 North Dakota voters forming the sponsoring committee. The group consisted of citizens from Bismarck, Fargo, Dickinson, Valley City, and Bowdon. We support a measure that would put the redistricting power in the hands of the independent nonpartisan Ethics Commission.

What would the measure do? First, no North Dakota voter should be forced to align with a political party to vote in a taxpayer-funded election. The current primary election restricts voters to one political party and crossing over results in an invalid ballot. The NDVF measure would open up our primary elections so voters have full choice and everyone can participate, regardless of political party and without restrictions to vote straight ticket or risk to invalidating your ballot. The people deserve transparent election results that feature the best candidate winning a majority of the vote, regardless of party, every single time.

The NDVF measure includes common sense policy to ensure election security by requiring a paper ballot (either in-person at the poll or in the mail), audits of election results so we can trust that they are accurate, and by providing our overseas military more time to vote.

Finally, the opportunity to create fair legislative districts only happens every ten years as it is directly tied to the U.S. Census. North Dakota’s voting district maps will be redrawn next year, and they will stay that way for the next 10 years. If we cannot create an independent redistricting process now, we’ll have to wait another decade.

The NDVF measure would create a process that is unbiased and transparent for the future, so North Dakotans can trust that their voting districts aren’t being drawn for the benefit of politicians.

North Dakota’s election system should never be “for the politicians, by the politicians,” but “for the people, by the people.” North Dakota voters should support proposals like the NDVF measure that affirms the “political power is inherent in the people”.

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