Are North Dakotans OK With Companies Paid to Collect Signatures for Ballot Measures?

North Dakota Voters First organizers haul nearly 37,000 signatures into the state Capitol Monday, July 6, for review by the Secretary of State's Office. (Adam Willis / The Forum)

MINOT, N.D. — I much admire my friend Tony Bender as a writer, but there’s no escaping the fact that he is a profoundly partisan thinker.

For Tony, if Republicans are for something, then that something must be harmful, and there isn’t any need for a more thorough analysis than that.

You can see how that attitude colors his column today about Measure 2, and the question of reforming the initiated measure process generally.

The way he sees it, Republicans oppose the initiated measure process because it represents the voice of the people and Republicans, uh, hate the people or something?

If you haven’t tuned in to this issue, Measure 2 is a constitutional amendment placed on the ballot by the majority Republican Legislature (full text here). It would change the process for constitutional measures to allow the Legislature to weigh in. If approved by voters, measures amending the constitution (not, you will note, statutory measures) would be voted on in the next legislative session.

If approved, they are enacted.

If voted down, they go back to the people for another vote.

This provides the sort of check and balance on the initiated measure process typical of the American system of government.

Bender, and other critics, have chosen to interpret it as an insult to the people. “Citizen government is all well and good, I suppose, until citizens start getting involved,” Bender writes. “You folks need to sit down, shut up, eat your vegetables, and just vote ‘R’ if you know what’s good for you.”

It would be amusing to review this ode Bender has written to the wisdom of the masses after Election Day when North Dakota’s voters have cast their ballots, overwhelmingly, for Republicans once again, no doubt to his chagrin.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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