Overlooked Provision in State Constitution May Give Democrats a Rare Legislative Win in Western North Dakota


MINOT, N.D. — This week we learned that Dave Andahl died.

He was a candidate for the state House in District 8, which has been a battleground for some fierce internecine politics in the NDGOP. Andahl was one of the candidates backed by Gov. Doug Burgum to take out longtime Republican incumbent Jeff Delzer.

Delzer and Burgum have clashed over budget issues over the past four years, and Andahl had Burgum’s money at his back when he and running mate Dave Nehring defeated Delzer in the June primary.

After learning of Andahl’s death, many (including this humble observer) assumed that he would remain on the ballot and if he won would be replaced by the local NDGOP committee.

This is, after all, the long-established protocol for filling vacancies in the Legislature.

The problem is, that’s the protocol for replacing people who already hold a seat in the Legislature. Andahl hadn’t been elected yet, and while his name cannot be removed from the ballot (they’re printed; people are already voting), he also can’t win.

What everyone has missed is Article IV, Section 5 of the state constitution which makes it clear that to be eligible for election to the Legislature, you must be, on the day of election, a qualified elector.

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