ND Secretary of State warns auditors about political materials at polling locations

By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

BIASED GUIDE: The North Dakota Secretary of State has warned county auditors to keep unofficial voting guides away from polling places after a controversial guide published by the League of Women Voters rankled supporters of a pro-life ballot measure. This photo shows the guides being distributed at the Burleigh County Auditors office, which is an early voting location.

BISMARCK, N.D. — North Dakota’s election officials are warning local officials to be careful about what type of voting guides are available at polling places.

The warning came after after complaints from supporters of a pro-life ballot measure about a voting guide they say is inaccurate.

The League of Women Voters published a voting guide for the state’s eight ballot measures, and these guides were available for voters at some polling places in the state. But ND Choose Life, a group formed to support Measure 1, criticized the voting guide in September for being inaccurate.

“In a shocking display of lack of integrity, the League of Women Voters of North Dakota has released a voter guide containing language purporting to describe Measure 1,” the group wrote in a “fact check” release on its website. “However, the language being provided to voters is not the official language created by the state, but rather a description being used by opponents of the measure.”

When ND Choose Life members noticed the voting guides at early voting locations around the state, they complainted to the Secretary of State’s office, which sent out a reminder to local election officials that only state-issued election materials may be present at the polling locations.

“Your office lobby or wherever people absentee vote in person, early vote polling places (if applicable), and Election Day polling places need to be free of outside guides detailing candidates and measures,” Elections Specialist Leann Oliver wrote in an email Wednesday to local election officials. “The only items that are allowed by law are the sample ballot and the official measure analyses.”

A photograph provided to Watchdog.org by ND Choose Life showed the League of Women Voters guide sitting on a table near ballots in the Burleigh County Auditor’s office in Bismarck, which is an early voting location.

ND Choose Life spokeswoman Shelle Aberle said they’ve had reports of the guides at other polling locations, but wasn’t able to provide documentation.

State law prohibits any attempt to influence voters within 100 feet of a polling place.

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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