This guest post was submitted by Rep. Jim Kasper of District 46.
I was pleased to read and totally concur with the column that Jack Zaleski wrote in the Sunday, April 1st Forum, regarding the true record of service by Secretary of State Al Jaeger for the people of North Dakota. In his article, Zaleski correctly exposes the tactics by Jaeger’s opponent, Mr. WillGardner, during Gardner’s campaign to unseat Secretary Jaeger. Zaleski points out the inaccuracies and fallacies in Gardner’s attempts todiscredit and distort Secretary Jaeger’s record of public service. In my opinion Zaleski is RIGHT ON.
The upstart candidate challenger Mr. Gardner is a self-described computer tech guru who seems to believe that the only skill needed to improve the Secretary of State’s office is being able to program a computer. I have personally attended forums where Mr. Gardner has inaccurately attacked and distorted the job and record of Secretary Jaeger. He cleverly uses words to give a false impression that there are big problems in the Secretary of State’s office that only he and his vast computer programming knowledge can solve. It is ironic and unfortunate that the Gardner criticisms seem to come right out of the progressive Democrat playbook even though he is running as a Republican.
As Chairman of the ND House Government and Veterans Affairs Committee, our committee has worked extremely closely with Secretary Jaeger and his staff the last four Legislative sessions to draft legislation to amend ND Voter ID laws to protect the ability of our ND Citizens to vote, while preventing those who are notcitizens of North Dakota from casting illegal ballots. The legislation we have passed, with the input and assistance from Secretary Jaeger and his staff, has done a lot to protect the integrity of the voting process here in ND. Unfortunately, a lawsuit funded by out of state liberals, has put this legislation in limbo and on hold.
Due to the Federal Judge’s ruling in the pending lawsuit, we still have the ability for a person claiming to be a citizen of North Dakota to show up at a voting location WITHOUT ANY ID, cast a ballot, sign an Affidavit and have their vote counted in the ND election. In the 2016 election alone more than 16,000 Affidavits were signed and these votes were counted and we still don’t know how many of these votes were cast by people who were not ND citizens. The reason these affidavits are still counted is because the ruling by the Federal Judge in the still pending lawsuit REQUIRES the state to continue to allow these AFFIDAVIT BALLOTS TO BE CAST AND COUNTED, until the lawsuit is settled. This is not the fault of Secretary Jaeger. It is the ruling of a Federal Judge.
Additionally, the criticism by Gardner about the computer systems in Jaeger’s office being inadequate again distorts the record and fails to tell “the rest of the story”. The North Dakota legislature appropriated money to the Secretary of State’s office to update the software systems in 2011. However, the Legislation REQUIRED that the ND IT Department develop the new software, against the recommendation of Secretary Jaeger. This programming job was completely over the head of the IT Department’s capability. After four years of frustration and failure to design the software by the ND IT Department, we finally passedLegislation in the 2015 session to allow the Secretary’s office to hire the outside experts they had wanted to hire in 2011, to design the needed softwarecorrectly. The software is now almost successfully completed and Secretary Jaeger’s office will be installing it in just a few months. Another criticism of Mr. Gardner again proven to be incorrect. And the problem is already solved.
IN MANY CASES THE REST OF THE STORY IS THE STORY.
Mr. Zaleski did an excellent job of stating these facts in his April 1st column. I agree with Zaleski that the Republican Convention delegates should reject the way Gardner has framed his unfair and incorrect attacks on Secretary Jaeger’s record during Gardner’s campaign and the delegates should vote to endorse Al Jaeger for Secretary of State at the Republican Convention this weekend in Grand Forks. Jaeger’s record of service to the voters and citizens of North Dakota is beyond reproach.