ND Supreme Court orders term limit measure to appear on November ballot

Secretary of State Al Jaeger
Secretary of State Al Jaeger(KFYR)
Published: Sep. 7, 2022 at 1:16 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The term limits initiative will be placed on the November 8, 2022 general election ballot.

North Dakota Supreme Court Justices filed an opinion Wednesday that issued a writ of mandamus and found that the Secretary of State Al Jaeger misapplied the law when he excluded signatures.

This past spring, Jaeger rejected 29,101 signatures on circulated petitions after he said documents showed fraudulent signatures and addresses and he believed a notary didn’t witness multiple circulators signing documents. After the disqualification, there were not enough remaining valid signatures for the issue of term limits to be placed on the ballot.

In August, the Term Limits Committee petitioned the court for a writ of mandamus to place the issue on the ballot. Attorneys for the Committee argued that Jaeger erred when he rejected the signatures and when he didn’t consider subsequent affidavits by a notary in question as a correction. They said Jaeger was wrong when he inferred “false in one thing, false in all things.”

Justices determined that applying “false in one, false in all” is contrary to the law and did not find precedent to support Jaeger’s decision.

This decision brought thousands of remaining otherwise valid signatures back into play to qualify the measure for the ballot.

Wednesday afternoon, the Office of the Attorney General and Al Jaeger said the court’s decision is legitimate but disagreed with the outcome.

“I’m paraphrasing. Court is saying, ‘We’re not going to address the rest of that fraud because they said the Secretary doesn’t have the discretion to look at this.’ The voters of North Dakota are going to consider amending the Constitution of North Dakota despite the fact that this is widespread fraud across all of these fronts that we have mentioned — which is uncontested — but they said what it comes down to is a math quiz,” said Attorney General Drew Wrigley.

“It gets brought up to me a lot that the Constitution has included that it is the right of the people to initiate. I agree, that’s a right they have. But there is another right, and that is the right of the public to know that the circulation of the petitions were done in a lawful manner,” said Secretary of State Al Jaeger.

It’s unclear how the Justices’ unanimous decision will impact future cases or election procedures.