Census Count Raises Bar for North Dakota Ballot Initiatives
As states around the country tackle redistricting based on the 2010 census, the new population numbers also make things harder for some initiative proponents.
From Ballot Box News:
Because the 2010 census shows that North Dakota’s population increased 4.7% compared to 2000…election law numerical requirements will now rise 4.7%, for the period covering the next ten years. North Dakota’s Secretary of State says the increase applies immediately, even to initiatives that are currently circulating.
North Dakota is one of the few states that bases the number of required signatures on a percentage of the population rather than a percentage of those who actually vote (usually measured by the vote for governor). Those trying to qualify a statewide statute need signatures equal to two percent of the population, now 13,452. To qualify a state constitutional amendment requires twice as many signatures, or 26,904.
Any signature collection effort is hampered by the state’s ban on paying petition circulators by-the-signature and restriction on non-resident circulators. Both restrictions have recently been found unconstitutional in several other states, but Secretary of State Al Jaeger refuses to stop enforcing them.
North Dakota’s population has boomed over the past decade, though it remains the third smallest state in terms of population. One in six residents lives in Fargo, pictured above. Wyoming and Vermont both have smaller populations, although Wyoming has more territory than North Dakota. Vermont citizens lack statewide initiative rights, and Wyoming’s process is so heavily restricted that it is considered one of the nation’s most inaccessible.