Fighting Sioux, Property Taxes Could Boost ND VoteBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Contentious proposals to retire the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and abolish property taxes statewide were expected to boost turnout during a state primary election that also features competitive races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate, North Dakota's secretary of state said Monday.
By: Dale Wetzel, Associated Press
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Contentious proposals to retire the University of North Dakota's Fighting Sioux nickname and abolish property taxes statewide were expected to boost turnout during a state primary election that also features competitive races for U.S. House and U.S. Senate, North Dakota's secretary of state said Monday.
Al Jaeger said he hoped Tuesday's turnout would equal that of North Dakota's 1992 primary elections, when a Democratic fight over the party's nomination for governor headlined the ballot. In that contest, Attorney General Nicholas Spaeth prevailed over Langdon state Sen. William Heigaard, the North Dakota Senate's majority leader, when a 146,687 people went to the polls.
"I suspect (voter turnout) will be at least that much, or a little bit more," Jaeger said.
As of 2 p.m. Monday, more than 43,000 residents already had voted, using absentee ballots and early voting procedures set up in some counties, Jaeger said.
Anthony Reedy, executive director of the North Dakota Republican Party, said he too was expecting steady turnout considering the ballot would include three constitutional amendments that had stirred strong debate on both sides. Besides the ones concerning the Fighting Sioux nickname and property taxes, another would make it tougher for the state to regulate religious practices.
"Three of the measures ... have generated a lot of interest and a lot of passion," Reedy said. "On top of that, you have three contested primaries on the Republican side, and that's helping turn out voters as well."
Another amendment asks whether the state constitution should be changed to make it easier for state legislators to land North Dakota state government appointments.
Republicans are deciding who their favored candidates for the U.S. House and Senate will be, while three people are competing for two November ballot spots to run for North Dakota superintendent of public instruction.
U.S. Rep. Rick Berg, who was elected less than two years ago, is running against Bismarck businessman Duane Sand for the GOP's Senate nomination. Berg and Sand want to succeed Democrat Kent Conrad, who is leaving the Senate after 26 years in office.
Republicans Kevin Cramer and Brian Kalk, who serve together on the North Dakota Public Service Commission, are fighting for the U.S. House nomination.
Neither of the Democrats who are running for Congress faced a challenger Tuesday. Former Attorney General Heidi Heitkamp is the Democrats' choice for the U.S. Senate, while Pam Gulleson, a onetime Democratic state House assistant floor leader and aide to former U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., is the Democrats' favored House candidate.
Two Democrats — former Bismarck state Sen. Tracy Potter and Max Laird, who once served as president of the North Dakota Education Association — and Republican Kirsten Baesler were on the ballot for North Dakota superintendent of public instruction.
The superintendent's job is nonpartisan, and candidates run against each other without party labels. The top two finishers in the Baesler-Potter-Laird race will advance to the general election. Incumbent superintendent Wayne Sanstead, who is a Democrat, is standing down after 28 years in the position.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.