FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
North Dakota Voters First
July 6, 2020
North Dakota Voters First Reaches Milestone to Modernize and Secure North Dakota’s Elections
Volunteer Leaders Deliver Over 36,000 Signatures to ND Secretary of State to Place Measure on the November Ballot
Bismarck, ND: The campaign working to modernize and secure North Dakota’s elections is one step closer to being placed on the November 2020 ballot for a public vote. North Dakota Voters First is required by state law to collect 26,904 valid signatures from North Dakota voters to qualify for the ballot. Today the campaign submitted over 36,000 signatures to the North Dakota Secretary of State to ensure qualification.
“Our campaign, led by our local volunteers and coalition partners, is proud to have submitted the required signatures,” said Carol Sawicki, Chair of North Dakota Voters First and Fargo resident. “The effort was made more challenging due to COVID-19. It was necessary to implement social distancing and safety protocols to protect the health of both community members and staff, but that did not hinder our success.”
“There is a powerful appetite here in North Dakota for putting power in the hands of the citizens. We intend to capture that and build momentum for the measure as we head to the election in November,” said Nicole Donaghy, Bismarck resident and board member of North Dakota Voters First.
The measure would secure the integrity of North Dakota elections through required paper records of all votes cast and election audits, allow more time for overseas military personnel to vote, increase voter choice through open primaries and instant runoff elections, and transfer the responsibility to draw political district lines to the citizen-led North Dakota Ethics Commission.
The opportunity to create fair legislative districts only happens every 10 years, as it is directly tied to the U.S. Census. “Right now, the state legislature is responsible for drawing district lines in North Dakota, and that gives politicians the power to choose their voters. Our measure will put power back into the hands of North Dakota voters,” said Donaghy.
She added, “The process for deciding nominees and officeholders will also be more transparent allowing the candidates with the best ideas, not necessarily the biggest bank accounts to have a fighting chance”.
The key provisions of the measure include:
- Secure our Elections: To ensure the security and integrity of North Dakota elections, the Amendment requires all voting machines to produce a paper record of every vote cast, requires random audits of election results, and gives North Dakota military-overseas voters more time to cast their ballots.
- Increase Voter Choice: The Amendment allows all voters to participate in an open primary election, where all the candidates are listed on a single ballot. The four candidates who receive the most votes for each office, regardless of their party, then advance to the general election. If no candidate has a majority in the general election, an instant runoff process will be used to save money and ensure a majority winner.
- Fair Legislative Districts: The Amendment ensures voters are picking their politicians — not the other way around — by transferring the responsibility to draw political district lines to the citizen-led North Dakota Ethics Commission. The Commission would redraw the maps in public, holding hearings around the state and taking comment from North Dakotans, to create districts that are fair, equal in population, respectful of existing communities, and free from partisan bias. All of the commissioners would need to agree on the maps to put them into practice. Currently, the North Dakota Legislature draws their own lines.
“Together, we are advancing an effort to give all voters more choice, more voice and more freedom when we vote,” said Sawicki.
North Dakota Voters First is a grassroots coalition of conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between working to make our elections better serve all North Dakotans. Carol Sawicki of Fargo serves as the Committee Chair.