N.D. voter turnout lowest for June election since at least 1980
BISMARCK – Voter turnout barely cracked 17 percent for Tuesday’s election in North Dakota, the lowest turnout for a June election since at least 1980.
With all 427 precincts reporting, voters cast 93,377 ballots for a turnout rate of 17.13 percent, based on the estimate of 545,020 North Dakotans of voting age used by the secretary of state’s office. North Dakota is the only state with no voter registration.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Tuesday that voter turnout in June elections has historically been around 20 percent, though it reached as high as 33 percent in 2012 when voters rejected a measure to abolish property taxes and approved a separate measure to retire the University of North Dakota’s “Fighting Sioux” nickname.
N.D. voters approve earlier deadline for filing initiated petition signatures
BISMARCK – North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said a ballot measure approved by voters Tuesday that sets an earlier deadline for filing initiated petition signatures will strengthen the process for citizens trying to change state law or the constitution through the ballot box.
With 82 percent of precincts reporting, 53 percent of voters supported Measure 1 and 47 percent opposed it. There were 33,560 votes in favor of the measure and 29,752 votes against it with 350 of 427 precincts reporting.
The constitutional amendment was the lone statewide measure on Tuesday’s ballot.
It will change the filing deadline for petition signatures from 90 days to 120 days before a statewide election. Petition sponsors will still have one year to collect signatures as they do now.
Secretary of State Jaeger says servers to blame for website glitches on election night
BISMARCK – North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger said server problems were to blame for election results being inaccessible for periods of time Tuesday night on his office’s website.
Jaeger, who was in Fargo on Tuesday night, said he also had difficulty accessing results on the website at times, which he said “kind of caught me off guard.”
He said he spoke with his staff in Bismarck and was told the Information Technology Department’s servers weren’t functioning correctly.
“It apparently took a little time to make the correction and they had to reboot them,” he said, adding that he was “a little bit disappointed in that because we work very hard in preparing for these elections, and I’m not quite sure what happened. … We definitely will be having a conversation about that.”
Williston voters approve new high school
WILLISTON, N.D. – Voters in Williston approved a $34 million bond measure to finance a new high school for the rapidly growing school district.
In complete but unofficial results, 2,738 Williston voters, or 76 percent, supported the bond measure, with 879 voters, or 24 percent, opposing it.
The Williston Public School District plans to construct a new high school, which would allow the current high school and middle school to be renovated to house grades 5-8. The new building would relieve crowding at Williston’s elementary schools.
More than 700 Williston students attended class last year in 54 portable classrooms, and the district is projected to grow by another 1,300 students in the next five years.
Watford City voters approve sales tax for hospital, rec center
WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Voters in Watford City have overwhelmingly approved a 1.5 percent sales tax to finance a new recreation and events center, a new hospital and other community projects.
In complete but unofficial results, 364 Watford City voters, or 85 percent, said yes to the sales tax measure Tuesday and 63 voters, or 15 percent, opposed it.
The results mean the McKenzie County Healthcare Systems board can move forward with plans for a new hospital, clinic and nursing home.
The funds also would help finance a proposed $56 million indoor recreation facility and events center and support community needs such as airport projects and affordable housing for essential workers and seniors.
Without proper ID, students turned away at polls
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — Three University of North Dakota students, confused by the state’s new voter identification law, were turned away at the polls Tuesday.
Laura Munski, an elections inspector at the polling station inside the Gorecki Alumni Center on the UND campus, said the voting process went fairly smoothly, but some voters were confused by the state law.
Three UND students had to be turned away because they did not have proper identification, Munski said.
They weren’t happy about it, she said, “They made the effort to come, but then they had to go home.”
Munski brought her own laptop and a printer to allow students to print their ID certificates, but the paperwork for that had to be filled out before Election Day, she said.
“I told them to make sure they visit the Campus Connection (online services) and fill it out before November (the next election),” Munski said.
Fargo commission to see familiar faces; Mahoney wins re-election, Piepkorn regains seat lost in 2012
FARGO – In with the old and out with the new.
That’s the message Fargo voters sent Tuesday night in a seven-way race for two seats on Fargo’s City Commission, granting incumbent Tim Mahoney a third term and ushering former Commissioner Dave Piepkorn back into office.
In complete but unofficial results, Mahoney held a healthy lead with more than 29 percent of the vote. Piepkorn won about 21 percent – an 8 percentage point lead over the next closest challenger, current Fargo School Board member John Strand.
After the results are confirmed, Mahoney and Piepkorn will be sworn in on June 23 for four-year terms, earning a $25,228 annual salary.
Walaker elected to third term as Fargo mayor
FARGO – Dennis Walaker had only one speech prepared Tuesday night, and it was a victory speech.
Voters for the third time chose Walaker as Fargo’s mayor on Tuesday. He’ll now serve a final four-year term.
“I can’t lose,” the mayor said in an interview before delivering that winning speech to a room of supporters at the Holiday Inn.
He’s proven that, winning handily in the 2010 election after beating back the historic flood of 2009, and winning his first term in 2006 despite being largely outspent.
After a contentious race that turned old friends into political foes, Walaker won again Tuesday with 56 percent of the vote, beating challenger and City Commissioner Brad Wimmer, who took 44 percent of the vote, in complete but unofficial results.
About 14,030 residents voted Tuesday, adding to 686 who voted absentee and 3,104 who voted early for a total of 17,820, said Cass County Auditor Michael Montplaisir.
That’s up from the 12,404 who cast ballots on Election Day in 2010, the last time there was a mayor’s race on the ticket. A total of 15,010 voted in that 2010 primary, including 473 who voted absentee and 2,133 who voted early.
Williston residents elect lifelong resident next mayor
WILLISTON, N.D. – Voters here chose City Commissioner and lifelong Williston resident Howard Klug as their next mayor.
In complete but unofficial results, Klug had 76 percent of votes, while entrepreneur Marcus Jundt had 19 percent and Jim Purkey had 5 percent.
The three candidates battled to lead the rapidly growing boomtown and succeed Mayor Ward Koeser, who is retiring after 20 years.
Klug, co-owner of the El Rancho Hotel, had 2,923 votes, while Jundt, who moved to Williston three years ago to open restaurants, had 735 votes. Purkey, also a new Williston resident, had 187 votes.
Valley City mayor wins four more years
VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Bob Werkhoven is a survivor.
The Valley City mayor overcame a recall election two years ago amid allegations that his administration ignored voter concerns. On Tuesday, he won re-election to another four-year term.
In complete but unofficial results, Werkhoven captured 55 percent of the vote in the mayoral race, with all five precincts reporting. Challenger Jeff Edwards, a business manager for a local developer, had 44 percent of the vote.
“I’m happy it turned out the way it did,” Werkhoven said Tuesday night. “We’re just going to move forward and put this other stuff that happened behind us.”
Years of political infighting have plagued Valley City, where a sitting city commissioner and former mayor implied in a newspaper ad last month that Werkhoven is racist and sexist.