Moving local elections to November may make it harder for voters to keep track of races, a North Dakota lawmaker said Tuesday. The interim Government Administration Committee began examining the possibility of moving city and other local elections from June to November during a meeting at the state Capitol Tuesday. City elections in North Dakota are held on the second Tuesday in June in each even-numbered year, coinciding with primary elections for state and federal offices, while general elections are held in November during each even-numbered year. The resolution requesting the legislative study said conducting local elections at the same time as the primary may cause voter confusion. Moreover, newly elected city officials have only about two months to get up to speed before cities have to prepare preliminary budgets.
Sen. Ronald Sorvaag, R-Fargo, said the idea is worth studying, but he cautioned against burying local elections on the November ballot. “People can only keep track of so many” races, he said. “An informed voter is extremely important.”
Stephanie Dassinger, deputy director and staff attorney for the North Dakota League of Cities, said moving city elections to November may increase voter turnout, but she acknowledged potential issues like creating a ballot that’s too large for current voting machines.
Secretary of State Al Jaeger doubted the change would save money, given that there would still be a June primary. “In my opinion, it would be a wash,” he said.