Articles Posted in Election Law

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Curtis Francis and another man, Michael Dax, were collecting signatures near the Jamestown Civic Center, a designated polling place, on voting day. They were doing so in an effort to get an initiated measure regarding environmental concerns placed on the next ballot. While they were collecting signatures, it began to rain. They moved under a canopy covering an entrance to the polling place. They continued collecting signatures as individuals walked past them to vote. One voter told an election clerk about Francis and Dax's activities. The clerk informed the county auditor. The auditor, along with a plain-clothed security officer, went to speak with Francis and Dax. They informed the two it was illegal to collect signatures within 100 feet of a polling place. Dax began arguing with the auditor; Francis continued collecting signatures. A police officer was dispatched. The officer confiscated the signatures, but did not arrest Francis or Dax. After the incident, the officer forwarded a report to the county prosecutor. The prosecutor filed charges against Francis for collecting signatures within 100 feet of an open polling place. Francis appealed after conditionally pleading guilty to gathering signatures within 100 feet of a polling place. After review, the North Dakota Supreme Court concluded the electioneering law he was charged under did not violate the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and was a reasonable restriction on the North Dakota Constitution's initiated ballot measure provision. The Court also concluded Francis has failed to show he was selectively prosecuted. View "North Dakota v. Francis" on Justia Law

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Paul Sorum appealed a district court order denying his January 2014, petition for a writ of mandamus. The petition requested an order to compel Governor Jack Dalrymple and Secretary of State Al Jaeger to execute and enforce North Dakota's election laws by removing the Democratic-NPL and Republican party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor from the 2012 November general election ballot because of improper certification of endorsement by the Secretary of State's office. The writ also sought to invalidate the election results for those offices and certify the election results after disqualifying all ballots made in support of the removed candidates. Finding no reversible error, the Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Sorum v. Dalrymple" on Justia Law

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North Dakota Initiated Constitutional Measure 2, which would have abolished property taxes, was disapproved by the voters in the June 2012 primary election. Empower the Taxpayer ("Empower"), Charlene Nelson, and Robert Hale supported Measure 2. Before the election, Empower, Nelson, and Hale brought this action against numerous state and local government officials and other entities alleging violations of the Corrupt Practices Act, and sought injunctive relief, including prohibiting the defendants from "advocating any position on Measure 2" and declaring the defendants "no longer eligible to run for public office." The County Defendants sought sanctions against the plaintiffs and their attorney under N.D.R.Civ.P. 11, alleging the action against them was frivolous and that it had been brought for an improper purpose. The action was ultimately dismissed by the district court, and the Supreme Court affirmed on appeal. After the action was dismissed, the district court considered the County Defendants' motion for sanctions, concluding a competent attorney could not in good faith have believed that a cause of action existed against the County Defendants. The court therefore ordered reasonable attorney fees and costs for defending against the action and that the plaintiffs prepare a written retraction of their allegations of corruption and impropriety to be published in the major newspapers of the state. Upon review of the sanctions issue, the Supreme Court concluded the district court's orders did not provide an adequate explanation of the evidentiary and legal basis for its decision; the Court was unable to adequately understand the basis for the court's decision to review on appeal. Therefore, the case was reversed and remanded to the district court to clarify its opinion. View "Empower the Taxpayer v. Fong" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff-Appellant Roland Riemers appealed a district court order that denied his petition for a writ to require the Secretary of State to remove the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor from the November 2012 general election ballot, or alternatively to place him on that ballot as the Libertarian party candidate. According to Riemers, both he and his running mate for lieutenant governor filed separate certificates of endorsement and statements of interests with the Secretary to place their names on the June 2012 primary ballot, but Richard Ames did not submit a signature page with his statement of interests. Accordingly, the Secretary placed Riemers' name on the primary ballot, but not that of his running mate Ames. Riemers received enough votes in the primary to qualify for placement on the general election ballot. The Secretary asked the Attorney General whether under North Dakota law, Riemers could be nominated for governor without an accompanying candidate for lieutenant governor. The Attorney General issued a written opinion ruling that Riemers was not nominated because the requirements for a joint ballot for governor and lieutenant governor were not satisfied. Riemers thereafter submitted sufficient signatures to the Secretary of State for certification on the November general election ballot as an independent candidate for governor, with Anthony Johns as his accompanying candidate for lieutenant governor. In September 2012, after filing matter in the district court and being informed a previous attempt to serve the petition on the Secretary of State by certified mail was insufficient under N.D.R.Civ.P. 4(d)(2), Riemers personally served an Assistant Attorney General with the petition for a writ of mandamus, a writ of prohibition, a writ of quo warranto, and for preventive or declaratory relief. Riemers named the Secretary of State as the respondent and asked the district court to require the Secretary of State to remove the Republican and Democratic candidates for governor and lieutenant governor from the November general election ballot for failure to file a joint certificate of endorsement for the primary election. Riemers alternatively sought an order requiring the Secretary of State to place his name on the general election ballot as the Libertarian candidate for governor with Anthony Johns as the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor. Riemers also sought an order directing the Secretary of State to stop discriminating against minor party and independent candidates. Upon review, the Supreme Court concluded that Riemers failed to demonstrate a clear legal right to be certified for the general election ballot as the Libertarian candidate for governor and the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying his petition for a writ to require the Secretary of State to certify his name for that ballot as the Libertarian candidate for governor. View "Riemers v. Jaeger" on Justia Law

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Steven Zaiser, as Chairman of the Sponsoring Committee for the Statutory Initiative Relating to the North Dakota Medical Marijuana Act, asked the Supreme Court to order Secretary of State Alvin Jaeger to place an initiated measure for the Medical Marijuana Act on the November 6, 2012, general election ballot after the Secretary of State rejected 7,559 signatures on circulated petitions and decided the measure did not qualify for placement on that ballot. The Sponsoring Committee claimed that although the submitted petitions included some elector signatures forged by petition circulators, the petitions contained sufficient valid signatures to place the measure on the ballot. Because of time constraints for placing the measure on the November 6, 2012, ballot, the Supreme Court issued a dispositive order on September 19, 2012, denying the Sponsoring Committee's request for relief and stating a written opinion would be filed at a later date. Because the circulators' petitions at issue in this case included signatures forged by the circulators in violation of a mandatory constitutional provision, the Secretary of State correctly rejected those petitions in calculating the number of elector signatures necessary to place the measure on the November 6, 2012, ballot and correctly determined the remaining petitions contained insufficient signatures to place the measure on that ballot. View "Zaiser v. Jaeger" on Justia Law