Laws governing recall in North Dakota

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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.[1]

North Dakota is one of nine states with provisions that say that the right of recall extends to recalling members of its federal congressional delegation, but it hasn't been clear whether federal courts would allow states to actually recall their federal politicians.[2]

Signature requirement

Main article: North Dakota signature requirements

The amount of valid signatures required for recall election is 25 percent of the number of persons that voted in the last preceding election for the office of governor in the electoral district of the officer sought to be recalled.


First a request for a recall petition must be filed with the Secretary of State. Every recall petition must have a sponsoring committee of five individuals and a chairman. Then the Secretary of State will print up signature forms to be distributed. The petition will then be able to be circulated among the voters of the electoral district of the official being recalled. There is no specified amount of time to gather signatures in North Dakota. After the appropriate number of signatures have been gathered the petition is filed with the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State has thirty five days to consider the petition valid. in order to do this they randomly sample signatures for validity. If the petition is considered valid the Secretary of State must put the recall on the election ballot after a ten day waiting period in which the official up for recall may resign.

Recall election

Recall elections are placed on the general election ballot. The election is basically a race between the official being recalled and any other candidates who are nominated in a manner provided by law. The candidate who receives the most votes then occupies the office in question for the remainder of the term of the official being recalled. No official can be petitioned for recall twice in the same term.

1921 North Dakota Recall

In 1921 the citizens of North Dakota recalled Governor Lynn Frasier, along with the Attorney General and Commissioner of Agriculture. The trio were recalled after a scandal involving the State Bank of North Dakota and the State Mill and Elevator. Both of these were State owned entities and the three men served as the board of directors for those entities. This marked the first time a Governor was recalled in the United States. There would not be another recalled for more than 80 years, when in 2003 Gray Davis was recalled in California.

Contact information

Secretary of State Elections Division
State of North Dakota
600 E Boulevard Ave Dept 108, 1st Floor
Bismarck ND 58505-0500
Telephone: 701-328-4146
Toll Free: 800-352-0867 ext. 8-4146
TTY: 800-366-6888
Fax: 701-328-2992

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