Earlier this month Libertarian Secretary of State candidate Roland Riemers won a recount for his primary vote total before the state Supreme Court. The victory for the frequently litigious Riemers surprised a lot of observers, including this one.
Anyway, the Secretary of State’s office today released the results of the recount and it didn’t go well for Riemers. He got just one additional vote.
“The Riemers recount abstracts have been received from the state 53 counties,” incumbent Secretary of State Al Jaeger said in a press release this morning. “The results indicate that one additional vote was added in Burleigh County increasing the statewide vote total for Riemers from 247 to 248.”
“The State Canvassing Board will meet in my office at 9:00 a.m. on September 4 to certify the results,” he added.
You may be wondering why Riemers was even demanding a recount. He was running unopposed for his party’s nomination, after all.
There are two reasons.
First, Riemers vote total fell short of the minimum 300 votes needed for a candidate to advance to the general election ballot. He no doubt felt that a recount might put him over the top. It didn’t.
Second, in order for the Libertarian Party (or any political party, for that matter) to maintain their status as an officially recognized political party in our state they must have had a candidate who got at least 5 percent of the statewide vote running for one of the following offices: president, governor, secretary of state, or attorney general.
The presidential and gubernatorial elections were last cycle (Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson got over 6 percent of the vote, meeting the threshold), so for the Libertarians to maintain the ballot access in the 2020 cycle they’d need a candidate getting 5 percent of the vote for AG or secretary of state.
The Libertarians have no AG candidate, and Riemers didn’t get there in his race.
So what now?
The Libertarians will have to collect 7,000 valid signatures from qualified North Dakota voters and file them with the Secretary of State’s office at least 64 days before primary day in 2020. For reference, that’s roughly half of the signatures you’d have to collect to get a statutory initiated measure on the statewide ballot.
The Libertarians have accomplished that before. They’ll likely do it again.