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Laws governing the initiative process in North Dakota

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Contents
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Petition summary
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.4.3 Fiscal review
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of North Dakota may initiate legislation as either a state statute or a constitutional amendment. In North Dakota, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. The North Dakota Legislative Assembly may also place measures on the ballot as legislatively-referred constitutional amendments with a majority vote.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

North Dakota does not employ a single-subject rule.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Sections 7-17 

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

Initiated measures and amendments are not governed by subject restrictions in North Dakota. In addition, they are not required to specify a funding source for mandated expenditures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Sections 7-17 

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of North Dakota ballot measures

North Dakota law provides that in the event that two measures conflict, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 8

Public fund appropriation

A prohibition against the circulation of a petition to initiative a constitutional amendment that would directly appropriate public funds or require lawmakers to directly appropriate funds for a specific purpose was approved by the North Dakota legislature in 2013.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota House Concurrent Resolution 3011 (2013) & Section 2 of article III of the Constitution of North Dakota

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

North Dakota is one of several states that require a certain number of signatures to accompany petition applications. The signatures of at least 25 qualified voters who will serve as sponsors of the ballot measure are required. A chairperson for the sponsors must be also designated. In addition, sponsors must file a copy of the petition complete with the text of the measure.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 2 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 9 

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

The North Dakota Secretary of State reviews the petition to ensure that it is in "proper form and contains the names and addresses of the sponsors and the full text of the measure."

  • An example of an approved petition can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 2 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 9 

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

The Secretary of State drafts a petition title for the measure fairly and concisely representing the measure. This title must be approved by the North Dakota Attorney General.

  • An example of a petition title can be found on the petition here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 2 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 9 

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: North Dakota signature requirements

Since North Dakota does not have a voter registration system, the number of signatures required is tied to the population reported by the last decennial census. As such, any US Citizen who is at least 18 years old and who has resided in the state for at least thirty day may sign an initiative petition. For statutes and veto referenda, the number of signatures required is 2% of the population. For amendments, it is 4% of the population. For recall, signatures must equal 25% of the votes cast for that particular office in the last election. Officials in Congress are exempt. A signer's name be legibly printed on a petition and include the signer's zip code in the required information.

Year Constitutional amendment Initiated statute Veto referendum
2014 26,904 13,452 13,452
2012 26,904 13,452 13,452
2010 25,688 12,844 12,844
2008 25,688 12,844 12,844

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 4, 9, & 10

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

North Dakota does not have a distribution requirement for petition signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Sections 7-17 

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In North Dakota, no law could be found that prohibited a circulator from signing his/her own petition. Each initiative petition must contain an circulator affidavit, signed by the circulator in front of a notary public. A circulator must also swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition.[4] According to North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sec. 3, and North Dakota Century Code, Sec. 16.1, circulators are required:[4][5]

  • to be at least 18 years of age or older
  • to be an elector in the state of North Dakota
  • to be registered with the [[North Dakota Secretary of STate|Secretary of State, unless they are volunteers, receiving no compensation for their signature collection work.

Once circulation is complete, signatures are submitted to the Secretary of State.[4]

DocumentIcon.jpg See laws: North Dakota Constitution, Article 3, Section 3 & North Dakota Century Code, Sec. 16.1-01-09 & Sec. 16.1-01-12

Pay-per-signature

See also: Pay-per-signature

North Dakota does not permit paying circulators by the signature. In Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the ban.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 12(11)  & I & R Institute v. Jaeger

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators

North Dakota requires signature gatherers to be eligible to vote in the state. In Initiative & Referendum Institute v. Jaeger, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the requirement.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 3 & I & R Institute v. Jaeger

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

North Dakota law does not require the circulator's paid/volunteer status to be disclosed.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Sections 7-17 

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. North Dakota law does mandate that signatures be collected in person.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 3

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

In North Dakota, petitioners may only circulate a petition for one year following the Secretary of State's initial approval. The completed petition must be submitted at least 90 days prior to the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 9 (7) 

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature submission

According to a 2013 House Bill, once signature petitions are submitted to the Secretary of State, they are considered filed and cannot be returned to the sponsoring committee for the purpose of continuing the circulation process or resubmitting the petitions at a later time.[6] Within 180 days of submitting a petition, a statement disclosing the following information must be submitted as well:[7]

  • If paid, the total amount of money paid to or expected to be paid to circulators.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

Once the signatures have been gathered, the Secretary of State verifies them using a random sample method. Since North Dakota does not have a voter registration system, the Secretary may use "questionnaires, postcards, telephone calls, personal interviews, or other accepted information-gathering techniques" to verify the selected signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 10 

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

In North Dakota, measures are given a generic name (Constitutional Measure No. 1, Initiated Statutory Measure No. 2). Numbers are assigned sequentially for all measures beginning with "1" at each election. Descriptive titles, summaries, or fiscal analyses do not appear on the ballot.

  • A sample ballot can be found here.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Sections 7-17 

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

The North Dakota Legislative Council prepares a fiscal analysis of each measure after certification and prior to the election. This information is made available to the public by the Secretary of State. According to a bill passed in 2013, if the fiscal impact of an initiated ballot measure is deemed "significant," it must be put on a general election ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 2 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 17 

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a 3/5 supermajority, others states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

In North Dakota, each ballot measure requires only a simple majority of the votes cast for or against it. This also applies to legislative referrals.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 8 & 9

Effective date

Approved North Dakota ballot measures take effect 30 days after the election.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 8 & 9

Litigation

See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Challenges to any decision made by the Secretary of State during the initiative process should be filed in the North Dakota Supreme Court. No court ruling may invalidate a measure after voters have approved it. In addition, if a challenge is pending while the ballot is being prepared, the measure should still be placed on the ballot.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 7

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The North Dakota Legislative Assembly may not repeal or amend an initiative for seven years without a 2/3 majority votes.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Section 8

Re-attempting an initiative

In North Dakota, there is effectively no limit on how often ballot measures may be reattempted.[8] State law does prohibit "more than two elections on the same general matter" within twelve months. Since measures are typically presented at only primary and general elections, a special election would have to be called to exceed this limit. Moreover, the petition periods for these measures would overlap, requiring petitions on the "same general matter" to be circulated simultaneously for multiple elections.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: North Dakota Constitution, Article III, Sections 1-10 & North Dakota Century Code, Title 16.1, Chapter 1, Section 11 

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for North Dakota ballot measures

Some of the notable features of North Dakota's campaign finance laws include:

  • Corporate contributions are treated as direct expenditures in support or opposition of a referendum.
  • North Dakota bans corporate contributions while a legislative-referred referendum is in debate in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly.
  • Groups in support or opposition of a referendum must report all contributions of $500 or more within 48 hours during the final 20 days before the election.
  • Reports of all contributions over $100 dollars must be made on the dates and with the content dictated by North Dakota Senate Bill 2299, which was approved in 2013.

State initiative law

Article III of the North Dakota Constitution addresses initiatives.

Chapter 1 of Title 16.1 of the North Dakota Century Code governs initiatives.

External links

References


Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Laws governing
local ballot measures
Contents
1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in North Dakota.

Proposed changes by year

2013

In 2013, the following bills affecting the initiative process were approved by the legislature:

Note: Some have not yet taken effect or require voter approval for enactment.
See also: Changes in 2013 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the North Dakota State Legislature:

Approveda HB 1372: Provides that upon submission of the petitions to the secretary of state, the petitions are considered filed and may not be returned to the sponsoring committee for the purpose of continuing the circulation process or resubmitting the petitions at a later time.

Approveda HB 1402: Requires that a petition signer's name be legibly printed on a petition, and includes zip code in the required information.

Approveda HB 1451: Amends and reenacts sections of the North Dakota Century Code, relating to disclosure requirements for petition sponsors and the requirements for calling and the duties of a grand jury.

Defeatedd HCR 3005: Adds signature distribution requirement that signatures of electors equal in number to at least four percent of the resident population from each of at least fifty percent of the counties in the state.

Approveda HCR 3011: Requires that initiated measures estimated to have a significant fiscal impact be placed on the general election ballot.

Approveda HCR 3034: Amends the constitution to change the submission deadline for initiative petitions from 90 to 120 days before the election.

Defeatedd SB 2183: Requires that petition circulators be a qualified elector who has been a resident of the state for at least three years and who, according to the central voter file, has voted in at least one of the preceding two statewide elections, not including any special election.

Approveda SB 2299: Relates to campaign contribution statements required of initiated petition sponsoring committees; relates to campaign finance; relates to campaign contribution statements required of political organizations.

Defeatedd SCR 4006: Requires legislative approval of any ballot measure estimated to have a fiscal impact of forty million dollars or more during the next full biennium after the measure is due to become effective.

2012

See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures



As of July 2014, no bills were introduced in the North Dakota State Legislature.

2011

See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures



The following bills were introduced in the North Dakota Legislative Assembly:

Defeatedd North Dakota House Bill 1295: HB 1295 would require voter approval for municipal building projects. Fire, police, and EMS projects are exempted from this requirement. The bill would also require school construction, purchase, renovation projects to have the approval of the superintendent.

Approveda North Dakota House Bill 1311: HB 1311 would extend financial disclosure requirements to any organization circulating initiative petitions. Currently, the requirements (disclosure of all contributions greater than $100 dollars) only apply to committees promoting or opposing measures. The disclosure filing would be due upon the filing of petition signatures.

Defeatedd North Dakota House Concurrent Resolution 3051: HCR 3051 proposes an amendment to the North Dakota Constitution which would allow the "legislative assembly to submit proposed laws to the electorate for approval if the electorate previously placed the proposed law on the ballot."

Approveda North Dakota Senate Bill 2073: SB 2073 clarifies the definition of "direct expenditure" and changes the disclosure requirements for corporations, cooperatives, and associations.

2010

See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

No proposed changes were identified in 2010.