Is 81 too old for public office? North Dakota voters will decide June 11

The measure wouldn't apply to a presidential candidate.

Published: May 23, 2024 11:00pm

(The Center Square) -

(The Center Square) - North Dakota voters will decide on June 11 if there should be an age limit for state and some federal office holders.

If approved, a person would be ineligible to run for statewide office if they are 81 years old on or before Dec. 31 of the year immediately preceding the end of a term as a U.S. senator or representative.

The measure wouldn't apply to a presidential candidate. President Joe Biden, who is seeking reelection for a second term, is currently 81 and will turn 82 on November 20.

North Dakota would be the first state to set age limits for office holders. While the state is not expected to incur any costs, Secretary of State Michael Howe said in April that he is concerned the measure would be challenged in court. A challenge could potentially cost the state at least $1 million, state officials said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. vs. Thornton that states could not impose additional restrictions on federal office holders. The case came before the high court in 1995 after Arkansas officials tried to impose term limits on their congressional candidates.

"Permitting individual States to formulate diverse qualifications for their congressional representatives would result in a patchwork that would be inconsistent with the Framers’ vision of a uniform National Legislature representing the people of the United States," the court said in its opinion.

Voters will also decide the Republican nominee for the state's top job. Gov. Doug Burgum is not seeking another term. He is endorsing his lieutenant governor, Tammy Miller.

The North Dakota Republican Party endorsed U.S. Rep. Kelly Armstrong, who is stepping down from his congressional seat to run. The primary winner will face Democratic state Sen. Merrill Piepkorn in November.

Rep. Michelle Strinden and Josh Teigen, North Dakota's secretary of commerce, are vying for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Patrick Hart is the sole Democrat seeking the seat.

Absentee and vote-by-mail is underway. Voters have until June 10 to submit those ballots.

The Facts Inside Our Reporter's Notebook

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