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Supreme Court to decide if Dem-NPL candidate for Insurance Commissioner can be on the ballot

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The North Dakota Supreme Court will decide whether the Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner should be removed from the November ballot.

Travisia Martin was endorsed to challenge Incumbent Commissioner Jon Godfread, a Republican.

The chairman of the state’s Republican Party, Rick Berg, has asked for a “writ of mandamus” from the Court, to force Secretary of State Al Jaeger to take Martin’s name off the ballot. Martin voted in Nevada in November, 2016.

Dickinson Attorney Courtney Presthus, representing Berg, told the Court Jaeger has declined to take that action, even though the state’s Constitution provides that a candidate must be a resident of the state for at least five years to be eligible to serve in a statewide elective office.

"A simple declaration of what your intent may be is not enough, when your actions tell a different story," Presthus argued. "What louder declaration of intent is there, than to cast a vote in a state under penalty of felony?"

Fargo Attorney Mac Schneider, representing Martin, told the Court the matter should have been filed in state district court, which is normally the court that determines the facts of the case. Schneider said Martin has had a residence in the state of North Dakota for at least 5 years.

"There have been no facts found, or even an opportunity for Ms. Martin to present those facts on her own behalf, about her act to relocate to North Dakota, with her partner, and maintain her residence with him from 2015 forward," Schneider argued. "There's been no opportunity to provide testimony on that."

The high court has taken the case under advisement.

Schneider also argued the 5-year requirement is unconstitutional, in and of itself.

"That's even more true today, when people are more mobile, more connected and frequently change residences much more than they did," Schneider said. "This is a provision that disenfranchises a number of North Dakota residents."

Presthus told the Court the requirement has been upheld in other states.

The high court has taken the case under advisement.

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