MINOT, N.D. — Forgetting about the North Dakota constitution's five-year residency requirement for statewide elected office is understandable.
Lots of people forget about it. Late last year, I wrote a column about Fargo-based Republican Raheem Williams wanting to launch a campaign for treasurer. During my interview with him, he mentioned that he'd been living in North Dakota for about three years. After publication, I had to update my column with news that Williams wouldn't be running for anything because both Williams, and his humble interviewer, forgot about that five-year requirement.
So I'm sympathetic to the situation Travisia Martin, the endorsed Democratic-NPL candidate for Insurance Commissioner, finds herself in.
Article V, Section 4 of the North Dakota Constitution states that to be eligible for executive branch elected office, "a person must be a qualified elector of this state, must be at least twenty-five years of age on the day of the election, and must have been a resident of this state for the five years preceding election office."
As I noted in a May 20 column, Martin voted in Nevada in 2016 per that state's publicly available records. Martin herself has admitted this to other members of the news media and me. Nevada's election laws require that the address you use to register to vote must be your "sole legal place of residence."
According to Nevada's Secretary of State, voting there requires a person to "be a resident of Nevada for 30 days preceding any election."
Martin could not have legally voted in Nevada while simultaneously being a resident of North Dakota.
Yet the North Dakota Democratic-NPL is insisting, on Martin's behalf, that she has been a resident of North Dakota since 2015.
If Martin wasn't a resident of North Dakota in 2016, she is not eligible to run for office in North Dakota's executive branch in 2020.
If Martin was a resident of North Dakota in 2016, then it appears she cast an illegal vote in Nevada.
The Democrats are arguing that the latter of these two scenarios is true. Which is deeply ironic. When we debate issues like voter ID laws, the Democrats insist that voter fraud almost never happens, and yet if what they argue that Martin's residency is true, it appears one of their own candidates cast an unlawful ballot.
Again, I don't think Martin was actually trying to do anything nefarious. I think she just overlooked North Dakota's residency requirement for holding an executive branch office. That's understandable.
What's inexcusable is how Martin, and the North Dakota Democratic Party, have handled this situation since it was revealed. When I spoke to Martin about this in May, it was, based on her reaction and her statements to me, the first time she was made aware of her residency issues.
A month, and a primary election, have gone by since then, and we've gotten little information from Martin or her party.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger has requested additional information from Martin to clear up her residency issues. The NDGOP says Martin hadn't yet responded to that request as of June 22, though the state Democratic party claims Martin submitted some information last week.
Jaeger has since confirmed that he has received a response from Martin.
Either way, it doesn't change the facts, which is that Martin and her party have known about her residency issues for more than a month and have been anything but transparent with the public about it before the statewide primary election or after it.
Martin has also refused to speak to answer questions from the media. "Martin did not reply to a request for comment about the North Dakota GOP's legal challenge as of publication time," Michelle Griffith reported late yesterday, noting that the NDGOP is now pressing a legal challenge to Martin's candidacy.
This is not a small matter.
On January 7, 1935, Gov. Thomas Moodie was inaugurated, but by Feb. 16 he'd been removed from office by the state Supreme Court because, in the five years before getting elected to that office, Moodie had voted in Minnesota and was thus ineligible to hold executive branch office in North Dakota.
The facts of Martin's situation are well-established and undeniable. The law she has run afoul of has been reviewed and enforced by the courts.
The only loophole available, it seems, is claiming residency in North Dakota in 2015, which is a tacit admission of an unlawful vote in Nevada in 2016.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at email@example.com.