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House overrides two Burgum vetoes

The North Dakota House has voted to override two vetoes by Gov. Doug Burgum.

One measure would prevent any city or county with a home rule charter from adopting "approval voting" or "ranked choice voting" in local elections.

Fargo has adopted “approval voting” for its local elections. Under it, a voter can cast ballots for more than one candidate for the office – and the person who receives the most votes is elected. It was done by a citizen initiative, under the city’s home rule charter. Fargo is the only North Dakota city with approval voting, and only one of two in the US that adopted the method.

Rep. LaurieBeth Hager (D-Fargo) urged her colleagues to uphold the veto.

"I don't think that any one of us in the room has a right to take it away — the home rule charter — and how Fargo wants to elect their local representatives," Hager told the House. "I don't think that us in Fargo should be telling you and yours your city races, or your commissioner races, how your voting method should be."

House Majority Leader Mike Lefor (R-Dickinson) urged that the veto be overridden.

"By introducing and passing HB 1273, the Legislature properly exercised its authority to regulate the way elections are conducted," Lefor said. "Such a broad departure from how the majority of the state's elections are conducted is a matter of statewide concern."

The override needs a two-thirds vote in each chamber. The House vote was 71 to 17. The state Senate will also take up the veto.

Roll Call Votes in the Legislature

The House has unanimously voted to override veto of a bill that would codify what’s now in practice, concerning votes in the Legislature on amendments or procedural matters.

Allowing voice votes on the House and senate floor, as well as in committees, has been part of the Legislative rules. But state law requires the use of roll call votes.

Rep. Todd Porter (R-Mandan) introduced the bill to allow the Legislature to have voice votes. He told the House the Legislature has taken a number of steps to be transparent, by slowing the public to watch committee and floor actions via on-line video.

"There is far more transparency than there ever has been, and Legislative hearings are significantly more accessible than executive branch boards and committees, including agencies that don't even open their doors to the public," Porter said.

Lefor echoed those remarks.

"The Governor's attempt to intervene in the business of the Legislative Assembly is not needed, not necessary and certainly not warranted," Lefor said.

The vote override motion passed on an 88 to zero vote, with six House members absent. It now goes to the state Senate.

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