BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota’s ballot on Tuesday offers some intrigue in the reliably red state — from late congressional entries by independent candidates to term limits and marijuana legalization.
Voters will decide whether to endorse changing the state constitution to limit the terms of the governor and state legislators. The citizen-led initiative would add a new article to the state constitution that limits lawmakers to eight cumulative years each in the House and Senate. The governor could not be elected more than twice.
Another citizen-led initiative also will put the question of marijuana legalization before voters, who rejected the idea four years ago.
The initiative would allow people 21 and older to legally use marijuana at home as well as possess and cultivate restricted amounts of cannabis. The state could register up to seven marijuana manufacturing businesses and 18 dispensaries.
Former Miss America Cara Mund qualified to appear on as an independent candidate for North Dakota’s sole U.S. House seat. The Republican incumbent, Kelly Armstrong, is seeking a third term. Mund entered the race in August and said her support for abortion rights motivated her candidacy. Democrat Mark Haugen quit the race, citing pressure from some in his own party to make way for Mund.
GOP state Rep. Rick Becker defected from his party by meeting the signature requirement to be listed on the ballot as an independent, challenging U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, who was first elected to the Senate in 2010 after serving as governor for a decade. Becker, a Bismarck plastic surgeon, narrowly lost the Republican endorsement to Hoeven in April.
Democrat Katrina Christiansen, a political newcomer and University of Jamestown engineering professor, also will appear on the ballot.
Democrats haven’t had a majority in the state House or Senate or held the governor’s office since the early 1990s. Democrats held all three of North Dakota’s seats in Congress from 1987 to 2011, but the GOP now holds them all.
North Dakota has 47 legislative districts. Each is represented by two House members and a senator, who are elected at large for four-year terms. Republicans have 80 House seats to Democrats’ 14, and the GOP has a 40-7 edge in the Senate. Ninety-eight of the Legislature’s 141 seats are on the ballot due in part to redistricting that was required due to population shifts shown by the 2020 federal census. All but one Democrat is up for reelection this year.
Contests for secretary of state, attorney general, and other state offices also will appear on the ballot.
Here’s a look at what to expect on election night:
Most polls close at 7 p.m. local time (9 p.m. ET).
HOW NORTH DAKOTA VOTES
Most North Dakotans vote in person. Some counties also allow for early in-person voting Historically, only about one-third of residents vote by mail. North Dakota is the only state without voter registration. Any U.S. citizen over the age of 18 who has lived in a specific precinct for at least 30 days may vote with required identification, which includes a state-issued driver’s license, state ID card, tribal ID or long-term care ID certificate.
A voter who is standing in line at the time the polls close will be allowed to vote.
The AP does not make projections and will only declare a winner when it’s determined there is no scenario that would allow the trailing candidates to close the gap.
Should a candidate declare victory or offer a concession before the AP calls a race, we will cover newsworthy developments in our reporting. In doing so, we will make clear that the AP has not declared a winner and explain why.
The AP may call a statewide or U.S. House race in which the margin between the top two candidates is 0.5% or less, if we determine the lead is too large for a recount to change the outcome.
The AP will not call down-ballot races on election night if the margin between the top two candidates is less than 2% or if the leading candidate is within 2% of the 50% runoff threshold. The AP will revisit those races later in the week to confirm there aren’t enough outstanding votes left to count that could change the outcome.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD I KNOW?
Q: WHAT DID WE LEARN FROM THE PRIMARY?
A: Not much. That’s because primaries increasingly have failed to settle who ultimately ends up on the November ballot and this year is no different, with the last-minute entries of Becker and Mund and the withdrawal of the Democratic U.S. House candidate.
Q: WHAT’S CHANGED SINCE THE PANDEMIC ELECTION OF 2020?
A: Secretary of State Al Jaeger said several counties added ballot drop boxes at that time and many of them remain.
Q: WHAT DO TURNOUT AND ADVANCE VOTE LOOK LIKE?
A: As of Oct. 26, about 53% of the nearly 37,000 absentee and vote-by-mail ballots had been returned. There are about 590,000 North Dakotans eligible to vote in this election. Turnout historically is around 25%.
Q: HOW LONG DOES COUNTING USUALLY TAKE?
A: The bulk of the ballots are counted within a few hours after the polls have closed.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS AFTER TUESDAY?
A: Candidates may request a recount if their losing margin is more than one-half of 1% of the largest number of votes cast for the office, and less than 2% of that total. They must post a bond to cover the recount expense.