On September 19, the North Dakota Supreme Court refused to put this year’s medical marijuana initiative on the ballot. The Court said it would explain its reasoning later. The case is Zaiser v Jaeger, 20120346.
This year, North Dakota statewide initiatives needed 13,452 valid signatures. Proponents submitted over 20,000 signatures, but the Secretary of State determined that many of the signatures were forged, so he invalidated the measure without determining exactly how many signatures are valid and how many are forged. Proponents of the initiative asked the Court to declare that an initiative can’t be invalidated without a determination of how many signatures are valid, but they did not prevail. When the Court issues its opinion, it is possible it will not decide the issue and will perhaps merely say that the lawsuit had been filed too late. Some ballots had already been printed.
Maine, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Alaska, and California are the only states that still ban out-of-state circulators for statewide initiatives, and the Alaska, California and Montana restrictions cannot be enforced because the Ninth Circuit already ruled that out-of-state circulators cannot be banned. The District of Columbia also bans them. Probably if North Dakota did not ban out-of-state circulators, there would have been no petition fraud. Proponents of the North Dakota medical marijuana initiative hired eight members of the University of North Dakota football team, and they have been charged with forgery. If proponents had been able to hire out-of-state circulators, chances are high they would have hired honest, talented professionals and the initiative would now be on the ballot.