Challenging Gov. Burgum’s move to fill the vacant District 8 House seat won Tuesday by Dave Andahl who died in October, North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said the governor has no authority to take such action.
In a statement issued Wednesday afternoon, Stenehjem said the North Dakota Century Code and the state constitution make it clear the legislative branch, not the executive branch, has the authority to fill a vacancy in the legislative assembly.
“Further, the results of yesterday’s election have yet to be certified, and will not be until the state canvassing board meets,” Stenehjem said in his statement. “Therefore, there is no vacancy to be filled at this time because the terms of the legislators elected in 2016 will continue until November 30, 2020. The term of newly elected members begins on December 1, 2020.”
Andahl died Oct. 5. Secretary of State Al Jaeger at that time said it was too late to remove Andahl from the ballots. In Tuesday’s election, Andahl received 35% of the vote to win one of two seats up for election.
Governor Doug Burgum Wednesday morning appointed Washburn resident Wade Boeshans to fill the District 8 House seat won in Tuesday’s election by Dave Andahl, who died a month before the election.
Shortly after Andahl’s death, Jaeger asked Stenehjem for an opinion regarding votes cast for Andahl and the process for filling the seat.
Stenehjem’s opinion, issued Oct. 13, essentially stated filling the seat was up to the legislature.
“Despite the Governor’s efforts to sidestep the statutory processes and the state Constitution, I have today advised Secretary of State Jaeger to follow the Opinion,” Stenehjem wrote Wednesday.