Marsy's Law Measure Approved For Ballot Despite Disqualification Of Over 22 Percent Of Submitted Signatures

TOM STROMME/Tribune More than 44,000 signatures on petitions to bring Marsy's Law to the November general election were presented to the Secretary of State's office on Tuesday morning in the state capitol in Bismarck. Looking over the petitions are from left election specialist Lee Ann Oliver, Marsy's Law committee chair Kathleen Wrigley, Secretary of State Al Jaeger and administrative assistant Kim Shaw. For a video of the Marsy's Law press conference go to www.bismarcktribune.com.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger sent out a press release today notifying the public about the approval of Marsy’s Law for the November ballot.

Marsy’s Law, of course, is the “victim’s rights” measure being backed in multiple states by California billionaire Henry Nicholas. Earlier this ¬†year organizers of the proposed constitutional amendment 44,198 signatures to Jaeger’s office for verification.

Jaeger’s staff found that 34,398 of them were valid, meaning over 22 percent were invalid for some reason. To be sure, every ballot measure petition sees signatures disqualified for various reasons. Sometimes because of illegibility. Sometimes because someone not qualified to sign the petition will sneak by the petitioners. It happens, but even so, a 22 percent disqualification rate ¬†representing 9,800 signatures – seems really high.

Here’s a breakdown of the reasons for those 9,800 disqualifications from Jaeger’s press release:

  • 750 – Inadequate signatures
  • 130 – Out of state or missing address
  • 432 – No date
  • 210 – Notary errors
  • 7,812 – Circulator error
  • 484 – Address omissions

As you can see, the bulk of the problem was circulator errors. Ouch. I guess that’s why you submit extra signatures. Can you imagine if they didn’t hadn’t had enough signatures to make the ballot after all the money they’ve raised and spent so far?

Makes me think of the 2010 cycle when a petition to repeal North Dakota’s pharmacy protectionist laws was kept off the ballot due to a problem with how the petitions were circulated.

Anyway, they only needed 26,904 signatures to make it on the ballot, and they passed that threshold by a country mile.

North Dakotans will now vote on the measure in November. It’s going to be an interesting debate.

There is strong opposition from the legal community, with groups representing both the state’s criminal defense attorneys and prosecutors speaking out against it and victims of crimes and/or their families speaking in favor.

It’s going to be an emotional debate, and one with the volume turned up given the resources Nicholas is no doubt making available to see the law passed.

Here’s the press release from Jaeger’s office, including the language of the measure which is lengthy and complicated:

[scribd id=315596980 key=key-MAib3v0G7r24TWmJNhZT mode=scroll]