CCP’s North Dakota Challenge Piques Interest

The Center for Competitive Politics, representing former North Dakota Republic Party Chairman Gary Emineth, filed a lawsuit challenging a North Dakota ban on campaigning on election day.

From the Associated press article “Ex-GOP leader fights ND Election Day campaign ban“:

The law, which dates to 1911, bars anyone from attempting to influence others to vote, or not vote, for any candidate or ballot measure on Election Day. The current version exempts billboards and bumper stickers, but North Dakota’s political parties believe it applies to all other forms of advertising, including radio and television spots, newspaper ads and yard signs.

To comply with the ban, political candidates and their supporters often scurry to take down yard signs and banners before midnight the day before Election Day.

“To tear all these yard signs down, you can’t tell anybody, encourage people to vote for a candidate on Election Day — I think it’s totally foolish,” said Emineth, a businessman and longtime Republican activist who served as the state party’s chairman from 2007 to 2010.
The article continues:

Emineth, who has several signs in his yard in Lincoln, just southeast of Bismarck, said the ban was “something that’s kind of bugged me for a long time.” He didn’t think about suing, however, until he became aware of the Center for Competitive Politics, a Virginia organization that challenges what it regards as unreasonable election restrictions.

From the Huffington Post article “North Dakota Election: National Group Sues To Overturn Election Day Campaigning Ban“:

The suit has garnered opposition from Democrats — including the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp — who believe the suit is intended to help Republican Senate nominee Rep. Rick Berg win the seat.

In the court filing, Dickerson wrote that Emineth wants to engage in “speech on election day” and that the law, which has been on the books since at least 1981, blocks this. The activities Emineth indicated he would like to engage in include displaying lawn signs, handing out political material and talking to friends about the election. The lawsuit says that all of these could be illegal under the current law. The suit also says Emineth “reasonably fears” being targeted for violation of the law by Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R), Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem (R) or Burleigh County State’s Attorney Richard Riha.

“This fear has chilled his constitutionally protected speech,” Dickerson wrote in the suit.

North Dakota’s ban on political speech, even for a day, is highly unconstitutional. We look forward to the quick resolution of this case.


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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.