The North Dakota Supreme Court is again being asked to remove an individual claimed to be “improperly placed on the ballot” by Secretary of State Al Jaeger. Former House Minority Leader Kenton Onstad in his role as Dem-NPL Chair of District 4, filed a lawsuit alleging Republican Rep. Terry Jones is ineligible to serve and is a resident of Wyoming, not North Dakota.

The ballot deadline in North Dakota is 45 days before the election. That date is Saturday, September 19th. Thus, we should expect a decision today. I think it is fair to ask why the Dem-NPL waited until the last possible minute to act. That answer may not come as a surprise to followers in ND politics.

Last month, the ND Supreme Court set a precedent when they removed Travisia Martin, the Dem-NPL candidate for Insurance Commissioner, based on her residency. That successful lawsuit brought by the NDGOP is the reason this one was brought forward so late in the season. The NDGOP has opened this process up.

Terry Jones’ residency has been a topic of backroom political chatter over the years. In other words, it wasn’t exactly a secret. To be honest, residency of multiple legislators have been in question over the years. For example, rumors of a legislator in Grand Forks who also has a spot in Florida has been brought up before. Expect these to be more thoroughly scrutinized following the Supreme Court decision last month.

In 2016, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 1. That measure was made possible because of a bipartisan resolution. The Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate offered the resolution. One of the sponsors of that resolution? Kenton Onstad who filed this lawsuit against Al Jaeger and Terry Jones.

The case claiming Terry Jones knowingly registered as an agent in Wyoming, thus declaring he is a Wyoming resident is strong. Also, if people can’t vote solely based on PO Box addresses, should that be enough for a lawmaker to represent that district? But, I’m no lawyer.

There was something brought up by political blogger Jim Fuglie about the North Dakota Supreme Court last week. Will the Court show consistency? Or has the partisan nature of ND politics been injected into the highest court in the state? The outcome of this decision may give us an answer.

Tyler Axness
Latest posts by Tyler Axness (see all)