North Dakota Initiative Filing Deadline Amendment, Measure 1 (June 2014)

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Measure 1 (June)
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Type:Constitutional amendment
Constitution:North Dakota Constitution
Referred by:North Dakota Legislature
Topic:Direct democracy
Status:Approved Approveda
2014 measures
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June 10
Measure 1Approveda
November 4
Measure 1
Measure 2
Measure 3
Measure 4
Parental Rights Initiative
Pharmacy Ownership Initiative
Endorsements

The North Dakota Initiative Filing Deadline Amendment, Measure 1 was on the June 10, 2014 ballot in North Dakota as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure was designed to change the filing deadline for initiated petitions from 90 to 120 days before a statewide election and provide that challenges to the secretary of state's decisions regarding ballot petitions must be filed with the supreme court at least seventy-five days before the election.[1]

The measure was introduced into the North Dakota Legislature as House Concurrent Resolution 3034.[1] In the North Dakota Senate, 64 percent of senators voted for the amendment. In the North Dakota House, 85 percent of representatives voted in favor of the amendment.[2]

At the time of the election, North Dakota had the second latest signature filing deadline in the country. Only Oklahoma's deadline was later, at 60 days prior to an election. Four states - Arizona, Arkansas, Nebraska and Washington - had deadlines set around 120 days. The average signature filing deadline before an election was approximately 138 days, at the time of Measure 1's approval.

2014 marked the centennial anniversary of North Dakota's initiative and referendum process.

The most recent prior ballot measure on the state's initiative and referendum process was Constitutional Measure 2 of 2004. Measure 2 was approved and mandated fiscal impact statements for initiated measures.

Election results

Below are the official election results:

Measure 1
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 43,868 53.55%
No38,05146.45%
These results are from the The North Dakota Secretary of State.

Text of the measure

Ballot title

The official ballot text read as follows:[3]

Constitutional Measure No. 1

(HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 3034, 2013 SESSION LAWS, CH. 518)

This constitutional measure would amend and reenact sections 5, 6, and 7 of Article III of the North Dakota Constitution by changing the filing deadline for the submission of initiated measure petitions from ninety days to one hundred twenty days before a statewide election, and by providing that any challenges regarding measure petitions must be filed with the Supreme Court no later than seventy-five days before the election.

▢ YES - Means you approve the measure as summarized above.
NO - Means you reject the measure as summarized above. [4]

Ballot summary

The North Dakota Secretary of State provided the following ballot summary:[5]

NDMeasure12014SoS.png

Constitutional changes

North Dakota Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIII
Schedule

Measure 1 amended Sections 5, 6 and 7 of Article III of the Constitution of North Dakota to read:[1]

Section 5. An initiative petition shall be submitted not less than ninety one hundred twenty days before the statewide election at which the measure is to be voted upon. A referendum petition may be submitted only within ninety days after the filing of the measure with the secretary of state. The submission of a petition shall suspend the operation of any measure enacted by the legislative assembly except emergency measures and appropriation measures for the support and maintenance of state departments and institutions. The submission of a petition against one or more items or parts of any measure shall not prevent the remainder from going into effect. A referred measure may be voted upon at a statewide election or at a special election called by the governor.

Section 6. The secretary of state shall pass upon each petition, and if he the secretary of state finds it insufficient, hethe secretary of state shall notify the "committee for the petitioners" and allow twenty days for correction or amendment. All decisions of the secretary of state in regard to any such petition shall be are subject to review by the supreme court. But if the sufficiency of such the petition is being reviewed at the time the ballot is prepared, the secretary of state shall place the measure on the ballot and no subsequent decision shall invalidate such the measure if it is at such the election approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon. If proceedings are brought against any petition upon any ground, the burden of proof shall be is upon the party attacking it and the proceedings must be filed with the supreme court no later than seventy-five days before the date of the statewide election at which the measure is to be voted upon.

Section 7. All decisions of the secretary of state in the petition process are subject to review by the supreme court in the exercise of original jurisdiction. A proceeding to review a decision of the secretary of state must be filed with the supreme court no later than seventy-five days before the date of the statewide election at which the measure is to be voted upon. If his the decision of the secretary of state is being reviewed at the time the ballot is prepared, he the secretary of state shall place the measure on the ballot and no court action shall invalidate the measure if it is approved at the election by a majority of the votes cast thereon.[4]


Background

North Dakota celebrated the state’s century-old tradition of initiative and referendum in 2014. In 1914, North Dakotans approved the Initiated Constitutional Amendment Referendum, which created a process for indirect initiated constitutional amendments, and the Initiative Statute Amendment Referendum, which created a process for indirect initiated state statutes. Both measures were placed on the ballot by the North Dakota Legislature.[6]

In 1918, the citizenry, utilizing their new power of initiative, voted on an initiated constitutional amendment to make the initiative process "direct," meaning the legislature was no longer involved in an initiative's approval or defeat, and to reduce the petition filing deadline to 90 days before the election. The Simplified Initiative and Referendum Process Initiative was approved.[6]

Since 1918, North Dakotans have voted on a number of occasions to amend the state's process of initiative and referendum. The following are approved measures that changed the process and defeated measures that did not:

Support

Supporters

Officials

The following officials sponsored the measure in the legislature:[1]

Other government officials who supported the measure include:

Arguments

  • Sen. Armstrong (R-36) said the new deadlines would provide a much more adequate timespan for the secretary of state's office to review signature petitions and for the supreme court to hear and consider challenges.[8]
  • Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R), replying to opponents of the measure, said, "My position is that this maintains the rights of all of the people, the (petition) circulators and everybody else out there who needs to have the assurance of knowing that the petitions were circulated in a lawful manner." He said that large events, such as the state fair, would not "make or break" a petition drive.[7]

Opposition

Arguments

  • Citizens in Charge designates legislation as either "helping," "harming" or "neutral towards" the initiative process. They deemed Measure 1 as "harming" because the amendment would make late summer gathering events, such as the North Dakota State Fair, inaccessible to petition signature gatherers due to the date restrictions. Citizens in Charge called the state fair a "big gathering opportunity."[9]
  • April Fairfield (D) argued, "This measure may seem benign enough, but it’s not. What this measure actually does is strike a blow at the heart of a longstanding North Dakota tradition."[7]
  • Dustin Gawrylow of the North Dakota Watchdog Network stated, "It simply is not a pro-voter or pro-citizen measure. This is designed to restrict the people’s ability to influence legislation."

Media editorial positions

See also: Endorsements of North Dakota ballot measures, 2014

Support

  • Forum Communications Co., owner of The Jamestown Sun and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, said,
Opponents of Measure 1 on the June 10 North Dakota ballot either have not read through the measure’s enabling language or they are misrepresenting the measure’s purpose and effect in order to indulge their political biases.

The evidence suggests the latter is their motivation...

In other words, they are win-win changes, and in no way attenuate any North Dakotan’s right to use the initiative and referral. If anything, the measure enhances a cherished option by better guarding against fraud (say, in signature gathering) and allowing everyone involved in an initiative or referral campaign plenty of time to validate signatures, appeal to the secretary and use the courts, if necessary...

Nothing North Dakota is doing here is radical. Indeed, it’s a thoughtful, pragmatic improvement that will make initiative and referral more open and more responsive for petitioners. North Dakota is an exception with its restrictive 90-day (prior to the vote) filing deadline. Many states are 120 days, and the national average of states that have initiative and referral is about 138 days. Going to 120 days in North Dakota is sensible.

North Dakotans should vote “yes” for Measure 1 on June 10. [4]

—The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead Editorial Board, [10]

Opposition

  • The Bismarck Tribune said,
The Tribune feels these changes aren’t needed and recommends a no vote on Measure 1... It’s understandable that the secretary of state wants more time to be thorough and avoid problems at election time. However, the problems he’s envisioned haven’t occurred... North Dakota has long prided itself on open government with an initiative and referral process that gives citizens an opportunity to take action...

Citizens can get a measure passed that was rejected by lawmakers or overturn action by the lawmakers. Or put a new idea on the ballot. It’s citizen involvement. Granted, over the years initiative efforts have become more sophisticated with a fair amount of money spent. But the opportunity to be heard, the chance to challenge, remains essential...

If the secretary of state is worried about being swamped with petitions close to the election, steps should be taken to provide the office with more help...

North Dakota should be cautious when tinkering with the process. At this time, the wise vote is no. [4]

—The Bismarck Tribune Editorial Board, [11]

Path to the ballot

See also: Amending the North Dakota Constitution

As required by Section 16 of Article IV of the North Dakota Constitution, the state legislature approved the bill by a simple majority in order to place the measure on the ballot. HCR 3034 was passed by the North Dakota Senate on April 10, 2013. The bill was passed by the North Dakota House on April 19, 2013.[2]

Senate vote

April 10, 2013 Senate vote

North Dakota HCR 3034 Senate Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 30 63.83%
No1736.17%

House vote

April 19, 2013 House vote

North Dakota HCR 3034 House Vote
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 78 84.78%
No1415.22%

See also

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