Measure 3 was officially removed from the November ballot. The North Dakota Supreme Court declared the proper procedures were not met and Secretary of State Al Jaeger should have never placed the measure. The Court’s decision is a big win for those who want to hold on to political power.

The measure aimed to make significant changes in the state’s election process. Audits, open primaries, and extending the time for our overseas military to receive and return their ballots. The other change offered – one I have been and will continue to be a proponent for – was independent redistricting. District lines would have been controlled by the voter-created ethics commission.

It was a lot in one measure, I’m not convinced it would have passed with so much in it. We’ll never know. I personally wish the independent redistricting would have been the only item offered. I don’t care if it was this group, a different group, or a Legislator that put it forward. Independent drawing of district lines moves us towards better government. Politicians shouldn’t be able to pick their voters.

Gerrymandering in American politics is a real problem, even in North Dakota. Now, that change won’t be coming any time soon. Not unless the Legislature so blatantly gerrymanders districts next year to create a lawsuit of its own brought by ND residents.

Rules are rules. If the requirements weren’t met, then this decision shouldn’t really be a surprise. The frustrating thing for backers of the measure must be the failing of the Secretary of State. I’ll be curious if the sponsoring group is wondering if any responsibility rests on Secretary of State Al Jaeger or Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem who was tasked with defending him in court.

Let’s get real for a moment. The opponents had the backing from Republican lawmakers, the Governor, other statewide officeholders, both US Senators, and Congressmen Armstrong. Their public argument that this lawsuit was somehow protecting voters from themselves and from outside influence, is less than sincere. They’re publicly claiming this is, “a win for voters.” They weren’t protecting you from outside influence, they were protecting themselves from you, the voter.

Some of the same people claiming this is a “win for voters” are the same people who pushed Measure 2 on the November ballot. Measure 2 comes from SCR 4001 in the 2019 session. It essentially gives lawmakers a veto over voters in the measure processes. Think that is a “win?” Do these politicians really have voters in mind or their own grip on control and power?

This is because politicians are still angry at voters for passing an ethics commission that they have soundly rejected time after time. They did all they could to defeat that measure in 2018. They lost. It angered and scared them. Then they did all they could to water that ethics commission down in through Legislature. There is no way they were going to sit quietly by as voters potentially granted more authority to the ethics commission they despise.

They are afraid of you as voters. In this instance, they got the final say as they’ve wanted. And you didn’t get to say much at all. Don’t let them have the final say on measures and your vote at the ballot box going forward through Measure 2.

Tyler Axness
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