Judge Denies Request From North Dakota Voters First to Collect Petition Signatures Online

Federal Judge Peter Welte checks out his office in the Federal Courthouse in Grand Forks this week. The U.S. Senate confirmed Welte as chief United States district judge of the United States District Court on July 30, 2019, six months after he was nominated by President Donald Trump. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

MINOT, N.D. — In May, an initiated measure campaign calling itself North Dakota Voters First filed a federal lawsuit against the state of North Dakota asking that they be allowed to collect signatures online instead of in-person as state law requires.

This suit hasn’t stopped the group from circulating petitions. They’re collecting signatures, and inspiring controversy since their petitioners aren’t exactly being up-front about everything this measure would do.

They’re advertising it as a measure to expand the voting window for deployed military voters, but the constitutional amendment would also make sweeping changes to state election law, including open primaries and ranked-choice voting in general elections. While I suspect most North Dakotans want to do everything we can to make sure voters who are on active duty can vote, they’re likely to find the other proposals in this measure that petitioners are neglecting to talk about far more controversial.

Anyway, today, U.S. District Court Judge Peter Welte denied the request for an injunction prohibiting North Dakota from enforcing its petitioning requirements.

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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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