Laws governing local ballot measures in North Dakota

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Laws Governing Local Ballot Measures

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North Dakota Constitution
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Some North Dakota cities and all counties have an initiative and referendum process for local ballot measures.

This article sets out the laws governing local ballot measures in North Dakota. It explains:

  • Which local units of government make the initiative process available to residents.
  • How and whether local units of government, including school districts, can refer local ballot measures (such as school bond propositions) to the ballot.
  • An overview of laws governing local recall elections.

Types of local government

Local government in North Dakota consists of:

  • 53 county governments.
  • 1,314 township governments
  • 357 city governments.
  • In addition, there are 759 special districts and 183 independent school districts.[1]

Further classification:

Counties may be governed under the general law or a home rule charter. 8 of the 53 counties operate under a home rule charter. They are, with year of charter adoption: Walsh County (1986), Richland County (1990), Cass County (1994), Stutsman County (2000), Ward County (2001), Steele County (2005), Williams County (2006), and Hettinger County (2012).[2]

Cities may also be governed under the general law or a home rule charter. 130 of the 357 cities operate under a home rule charter.[3]

Ballot Law Portal
Laws Governing Ballot Measures

School districts

See also: School bond and tax elections in North Dakota

In North Dakota, voting can occur on three different kinds of school tax levy ballot measures:

  • General fund levy-This is for basic funding of the school districts operations such as maintenance costs, teacher salaries and basic operating costs.
  • Capital Improvement levy-This is to fund new construction and capital improvements for school districts as this is a separate levy.
  • Distance Learning fund levy-This levy is designed for school districts to create a levy only for distance learning programs.

North Dakota has tough super majority requirements for voter approval. Any levy for capital improvements must have a three-fifths (60%) super-majority vote while any general fund levy election question must have a fifty-five percent super majority. A distance learning levy only requires a simple majority.

Local recall rules

The citizens of North Dakota may initiate a recall election against any elected official, at any level of government. The North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1 and 10 authorizes recall against statewide, legislative, and county officials. The North Dakota Century Code, Section 44-08-21 authorizes recall against all elected officials in the remaining political subdivisions of the state.[4]

For additional detail, see: Laws governing recall in North Dakota

Initiative process availability

The local units of government in North Dakota that make the initiative process available are:

  • All 35 general law cities with a commission or modern council form of government have a mandated initiative process for ordinances.
  • All 130 charter cities have a mandated initiative process for charter amendment. Charters may also contain provisions for ordinance initiative.
  • All 45 general law counties have a mandated initiative process for ordinances.
  • All 8 charter counties have a mandated initiative process for charter amendment.[3]

Authority

A guide to local ballot initiatives
Local Ballot Initiatives cover.jpg

Constitution

There is no mention of local initiative and referendum in the North Dakota Constitution.

Statutes

Initiative and referendum in commission and modern council cities is mandated in the North Dakota Century Code 40-12. DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code 40-12

Initiative for amendments to city charters is mandated in North Dakota Century Code 40-05.1-02. DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code 40-05.1-02

Initiative for amendments to county charters is mandated in North Dakota Century Code 11-09.1-06. DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code 11-09.1-06

In March 2013 the North Dakota legislature passed a bill that would have permitted counties to schedule special elections for proposed charter amendments, as cities are allowed to do as detailed below. Previously under state law amendments to county charters could only be submitted to a vote during primary and general elections. Gov. Jack Dalrymple vetoed the bill on the rationale that such important matters should not be submitted to an election which typically has low turnout.[5][6]

Initiative process features in general law cities

The initiative process for commission and modern council forms of government is detailed in the North Dakota Century Code 40-12.[7]


Initiative process features in charter cities

The initiative process for amendments to city charters is detailed in the North Dakota Century Code 40-05.1.[8]


Initiative process in the top 10 most populated cities

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Source:Local Ballot Initiatives: How citizens change laws with
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List of Most Populated Cities in North Dakota
City[9] Population City Type Next election
Fargo 107,349 Charter N/A
Bismarck 62,665 Charter N/A
Grand Forks 52,631 Charter N/A
Minot 42,485 Charter N/A
West Fargo 26,291 Charter N/A
Mandan 18,507 Charter N/A
Dickinson 18,499 Charter N/A
Williston 16,006 Charter N/A
Jamestown 15,400 Charter N/A
Wahpeton 7,731 Charter N/A

The top 10 most populated cities are all governed under a home rule charter. Charters may be amended by initiative as provided above, with some charters containing additional details such as petition form requirements. All charters below also authorize initiative for ordinances, as provided.



See also

External links

References