BISMARCK — North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Tuesday, March 22, that a proposed measure to set term limits for lawmakers and governors will not appear on the November ballot after thousands signed petitions did not meet legal standards. The state’s top election official also alleged that the group behind the measure violated state law by offering bonuses to signature collectors for getting petitions signed.
Jaeger wrote in a letter to Speaker Jared Hendrix that his office had rejected more than 29,000 of the roughly 46,000 petitions submitted by the group, which needed 31,164 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot.
Hendrix did not immediately respond to Forum News Service.
Nearly 15,800 signed petitions were invalidated due to notary problems. Jaeger’s office deemed another 10,600 signatures “inadequate” – a label that may apply if signers haven’t printed their full names, signed the petition more than once, or signed the petition before it was due. be approved for circulation. More than 2,000 petitions were canceled because they contained incomplete addresses.
Jaeger’s office also interviewed signature collectors and found that some received or paid bonuses based on the number of signatures they obtained, which is prohibited by state law. Jaeger wrote that he “must report all violations to the Attorney General,” adding that signatures collected by those to whom bonuses were offered or paid are void.
The secretary also noted that some signature collectors were not qualified residents of North Dakota and others were not even US citizens.
The constitutional measure would have set an eight-year cap on the service of the governor and state legislators, although legislators could have served up to eight years each in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Proponents of the measure said term limits would inject fresh blood and new ideas into government and dampen incentives for lawmakers to respond to establishment politicians hoping to rise in the power structure.
Critics of the proposal said eliminating the institutional memory of incumbent lawmakers allows bureaucrats and lobbyists to assert more control. Critics have also argued that elections already give voters the ability to limit the number of terms elected officials can serve.