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Ballot measure to change North Dakota elections misses deadline for November ballot

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Ballot measure to change North Dakota elections misses deadline for November ballot

Jul 09, 2024 | 5:38 pm ET
By Michael Achterling
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Ballot measure to change North Dakota elections misses deadline for November ballot
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Burleigh County Auditor Mark Splonskowski, left, and tax appraiser Tessa Knudson run a ballot tabulator June 24, 2024, during a meeting of the Burleigh County Canvassing Board. A proposed ballot measure seeks to require hand-counting of ballots. (Amy Dalrymple/North Dakota Monitor)

Sponsors of a constitutional ballot initiative that would change how elections are conducted in North Dakota failed to submit signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office by Monday’s deadline for inclusion on the November ballot.

The petition was approved by the Secretary of State’s Office for circulation on Sept. 27, 2023, and the measure’s sponsoring committee has one year to gather 31,164 signatures.

Sponsors are working to collect 20,000 more signatures between now and September for inclusion on the June 2026 ballot, Lydia Gessele, chair of the ballot measure’s sponsoring committee, told the North Dakota Monitor. She said petition circulators are gathering more signatures than required in case some are ruled invalid.

“We’re going to have people out at different events and then just in their communities as well,” Gessele said.

The ballot measure would prohibit electronic voting machines and tabulators, which would cause all election results to be hand counted. Some of the other aspects of the measure would prohibit early voting or voting by mail, except for absentee ballots; drop-boxes for ballots; and ranked-choice voting.

It would also require all polling locations to be open on Election Day and a two-thirds majority voting threshold in both chambers for legislative ballot measures before they are put to the voters. The measure also would empower any U.S. citizen with the ability to request an audit of the state’s election results.

During the June primary, 36 North Dakota counties received approval from their county commissioners to conduct vote-by-mail during the election.

“(North Dakota voters) should be educating themselves about these machines,” Gessele said. “People need to start educating themselves instead of just sitting back and believing what they are being told about them.”

Election reform measure will have wrong effect, North Dakota official says

In previous North Dakota Monitor reporting, North Dakota Secretary of State Michael Howe reiterated his support for using ballot-counting machines and emphasized that none of the machines are connected to the internet. He added hand counting ballots on election night would take longer and increase the likelihood of human error.