Supreme Court hears arguments in case of eligibility for Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner

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Should Secretary of State Al Jaeger remove the Democratic candidate for State Insurance Commissioner from the November ballot?

That’s the question the North Dakota Supreme Court considered Tuesday as it heard oral arguments in the case of Berg v. Jaeger.

Courtney Presthus, the lawyer for North Dakota GOP Chairman Rick Berg, argued that Travisia Martin is ineligible to be a candidate for State Insurance Commissioner because she voted in Nevada in 2016.

North Dakota requires its elected officials to have been residents for at least five years before being elected.

Presthus pointed to prior case law, in which the Supreme Court said “there must be a union of act and intent” when declaring residency in a state, “but said that declaring what your intention may be isn’t enough when your acts show differently.”

“What louder declaration of intent is there than casting your vote?” Presthus asked.

Mac Schneider, the lawyer representing Martin, says his client established residency in North Dakota by moving to the state with her partner in 2015. Martin previously told KX News that she voted in Nevada in 2016 because she was not yet familiar with North Dakota’s voting requirements.

Schneider also noted that North Dakota’s eligibility requirements apply to elected officials, not candidates seeking office. “The legally required outcome is also the best outcome, and that is to let the people of North Dakota decide in November,” Schneider said, saying the issue could be revisited if Martin wins the race for Insurance Commissioner against the Republican incumbent Jon Godfread.

It’s not clear when the Supreme Court will reveal its decision in the case.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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