North Dakota Ballot Measure 1: Term Limits

North Dakota Measure 1
North Dakota Measure 1(Valley News Live)
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 4:04 PM CDT
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - North Dakotans will cast their vote on two initiated measures during the general election on Tuesday, November 8.

Measure 1 would add a new article to the North Dakota Constitution regarding gubernatorial and legislative term limits and Measure 2 would create a new chapter of the North Dakota Century Code legalizing the production, processing and sale of cannabis, and the possession and use of various forms of cannabis by anyone 21 years of age or older.


The process to get term limits on the ballot has been complicated. The petition to get the measure on the ballot received the most signatures ever submitted for a measure in North Dakota history, but then it was disqualified and the BCI opened an investigation into potential fraud in the signature-gathering process. After a lawsuit, a judge ordered it be placed on the November ballot, leaving the people of North Dakota with a choice.

Measure 1 would apply only to state legislators and the governor. That means it doesn’t include city or county officeholders, or members of Congress. If passed, the measure would limit service in each role to eight years. So, after somebody has served eight years in the state House of Representatives, for instance, they could run for the state Senate, or for governor, but their time in the House would be capped. And finally, anyone who has already served in the Legislature or as Governor will not have their previous time in office count against the limit, which means someone like Governor Doug Burgum would be allowed eight years after the ballot measure would be instituted. Click here to read the full text of Measure 1 that will appear on the ballot.

The Greater North Dakota Chamber, and several other chambers of commerce across the state, are urging people to vote no and reject Measure 1. In a statement, the Greater North Dakota Chamber said elections are fundamental basics of a democratic government. They give people the chance to select who they want in specific roles. Measure 1 changes that.

The full statement from the Greater North Dakota Chamber can be viewed HERE.

On Friday, October 14, the FMWF Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors voted to publicly oppose the measure.

“If passed, Measure 1 would present severe challenges for our state, region, and our members,” remarked Chamber President and CEO Shannon Full. “Our community and business leaders rely on experienced local legislators, with deep institutional knowledge to advance key pieces of legislation.”

“Much of our region’s success can be attributed to the leadership, management and experience of our lawmakers throughout the state,” mentioned Chamber Board Chair Peter Stenehjem. “Not only would this measure limit our candidate pool in an already challenging environment, it puts us at risk of losing years of insight, experience and knowledge as a state.”

The North Dakota Farm Bureau (NDFB) and North Dakota Farmers Union also announced their joint opposition to Measure 1. In March of 2022, the NDFB Board of Directors voted to reject a proposed constitutional ballot measure that would limit terms of service for North Dakota legislators and the governor.

“Limiting state legislative terms would result in terrible consequences for the rural citizens and communities of North Dakota,” said Daryl Lies, NDFB President. “Why should we be forced to get rid of the very people who are good for North Dakota? As voters, we should have the right to vote for leaders of our choice.”

The groups say, since the 2015 legislative session, 27 of the 47 North Dakota Senate seats will have turned over after this fall’s election. Of the 94 State House seats, half will be in different hands after this fall.

“The system already allows for natural turnover while allowing North Dakotans to keep their right to vote for the leaders they want representing them,” said Lies. “Term limits on state legislators will not fix problems in Washington, D.C. Term limits will only shift the power to unelected bureaucrats.”

Those in support of Measure 1 argue that new voices need to be heard and the same people shouldn’t be representing North Dakota year after year. When disputing the argument of losing leadership and expertise, Representative Jeff Hoverson of Minot said, “If you need that much institutional memory, that, to me, is another sign that the government’s just too big. The government shouldn’t be that big.”