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LWV on ND Session: School Board Races, Early Voting Policy Eyed

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Friday, December 16, 2022   

The midterm elections are in the rearview mirror, but some North Dakotans are looking ahead to the legislative session as they monitor possible changes to voting policy. One group is seeking reforms related to school board elections in the state.

Prior to recent election cycles, races for school board seats were often deemed non-political and without much tension. But special-interest groups pushing for book bans and against certain race-related teachings have altered the landscape in many states.

Mary Tintes, vice president of the League of Women Voters of North Dakota, said it wasn't as pronounced in North Dakota, but her group wants to avoid it becoming a bigger problem.

"The focus should be on what's best for the education of the kids in that district," she said, "and not some sort of political agenda."

School-board candidates in North Dakota aren't required to file campaign finance reports. The League wants to see legislation to change that, arguing voters should know which groups are backing these candidates. Organizations that align with candidates who have controversial views often cite parental rights and voice concerns about some types of curricula as "indoctrinating" students.

Supporters of creating more transparency in school-board candidate filings say it should be done carefully to not discourage people from running. Meanwhile, Tintes said the League is calling on lawmakers to reject any bills that might surface to restrict access to the polls, including early voting.

"We want to see that all eligible voters have every opportunity to cast their votes in a way that's most convenient for them," she said.

In North Dakota's last legislative session, a plan to reduce the number of early voting days failed. Backers of that plan cited the need to restore election integrity as false claims mounted about the 2020 presidential election. However, the League and election administrators have said early voting is secure and is a component of a healthy democracy.

Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.



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