Radicals torching ND election laws

With a bizarre collection of proposals to upset the North Dakota election system, a band of outliers are now carrying petitions across the state to put a catch-all constitutional amendment on the November ballot.

The amendment has neither coherence nor common sense for the professionals who have administered election laws in North Dakota with the utmost of integrity and accuracy.

Professionals agree

Secretary State Michael Howe, Wells County Auditor Dan Stutlien and State Auditor Josh Gallion have unanimously agreed that the North Dakota election system is secure.

In a study I did a few years back, we asked the election inspectors in the larger cities and all states attorneys for their appraisal and these folks working on the ground attested to the fact that we have one of the best electoral systems in the nation under Republicans and Democrats alike.

Numerous suggestions

If adopted, the measure would require the following:

Any citizen in the United States would be given the authority to scour North Dakota election returns, e.g. a Nevada resident could walk into the Stutsman County courthouse and demand to see election returns. Many cookies on the loose could make a career of election meddling.

Ballots with some 40 items would be hand-counted so results would not be known for days after the election. Hand counting is more vulnerable to errors than the scientific machines not used.

Early voting or voting by mail would be outlawed, leaving some handicapped unable to cast a ballot.

Restrict legislature

The legislature would be required to propose constitutional amendments by a two-thirds majority, a change from the simple majority required at present. This is a solution for which there is no problem. History proves that the legislature has been very frugal in proposing amendments.

The proposal would make it easier to recall elected officials, another answer for a non-existent problem. No doubt, the sponsors would hope to use recall as a weapon for the radical wing to intimidate public officials.

Lydia Gessele of Chasely, chair of the sponsoring committee, has failed to provide documented information about the failures in the present system.

Sponsors without facts

Among her arguments are generalities without facts. She has been quoted “there are a lot of errors that needed to be corrected” and “I saw major problems with the machines.” A lay person lacks the technical knowledge to make such sweeping allegations.

She hangs her whole case on Missouri, where they are still hand counting some ballots. But Missouri sheds no light because it has fewer candidates and fewer measures on the ballot.

Auditor Stutlien said hand-counting for very small precincts may be possible, such as Wells County, but hand-counting in Grand Forks, Fargo, Minot and Bismarck would require an army to complete.

After burning up millions of dollars in public money and time, this measure will not be approved by the citizenry. It has tied a number of issues into one package, forcing the voters to swallow the whole package with one vote. They won’t vote for a pig in the poke.

Some voters may favor eliminating mail ballots but be against easier recall. As we learned in the vote on a new constitution back in 1972, the variety of issues brought out a variety of opponents, each with a specific reason for voting against it.

On the whole, this proposal tends to open the gates for the radicals who want to generate more conflict in the electoral system.


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