Ballot Measures Just Got Even Harder for Actual Grassroots Groups

Gary Emineth, left, laughs as he submits signatures for a ballot measure to amend North Dakota's constitution to ensure only U.S. citizens can vote in North Dakota elections Friday, July 6, 2018. (John Hageman / Forum News Service)

MINOT, N.D. — North Dakota law allows citizens to legislate at the ballot box, whether it’s a statute or even the state constitution.

Initiated measure campaigns need only collect the requisite number of petition signatures from North Dakota citizens and their issue goes on the ballot for an up or down vote. For statutory measures, a number of signatures equal to 2 percent of the statewide population are required. For constitutional measures, it’s 4 percent.

For the last decade, those requirements have been based on the 2010 census, but now they’re going up based on the recently finalized 2020 count numbers.

According to a press release from Secretary of State Al Jaeger, for the next decade, statutory measures will require 15,582 signatures, an increase of 2,130.

Constitutional measures will require 31,164, an increase of 4,260.

There are currently two ballot measure campaigns circulating petitions for inclusion on the statewide ballot next year – one a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana, the other an amendment to require a supermajority vote for constitutional amendments – and Jaeger’s office has contacted each to alert them to the new signature requirements.

What are the political implications of these changes?

Continue reading…

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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