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North Dakota Democratic-NPL candidate asked to clarify residency

North Dakota Democratic-NPL candidate asked to clarify residency

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North Dakota's Democratic-NPL Party is working to gather documents related to a statewide candidate's residency after evidence surfaced of her recently voting in another state.

Travisia Martin, a critical care respiratory therapist from Bismarck, is the endorsed Democratic-NPL candidate for state insurance commissioner. North Dakota's Republican Party last month asked Secretary of State Al Jaeger to obtain proof of her residency in North Dakota, citing records she voted in 2016 in Nevada, or request she decline her endorsement and be removed from the November ballot.

North Dakota's executive branch officials must reside in North Dakota for at least five years preceding their election.

Jaeger, a Republican, provided the Tribune on Monday a letter he sent Martin and Democratic-NPL Party Chairwoman Kylie Oversen last week, requesting "relevant information regarding (Martin's) status as a resident of North Dakota for the required five years."

Jaeger's letter indicated he had been in touch with Nevada's secretary of state, who told him Martin is still a registered voter in Nevada, but in inactive status. She last voted in person at a polling place in the 2016 general election, the letter said.

"Considering the above, it appears you may not have met the required five-year residency requirements," Jaeger wrote. 

Party spokesman Alex Rohr said Oversen spoke with Jaeger on Friday to "clarify the process" while the party works to gather necessary documents.

"We’re excited to continue supporting Travisia's campaign for insurance commissioner because every North Dakotan deserves access to affordable health care and basic consumer protections that are often lacking," Rohr said.

Martin campaign manager Doree Henry said Martin and her partner have lived in North Dakota since 2015. 

"As a traveling respiratory therapist, she has worked at numerous hospitals during her time in North Dakota, and has seen that there is a significant difference in health care access across the state," Henry said. "She's running for insurance commissioner because that needs to change."

When candidates file their affidavit of candidacy, they swear before a notary public they are qualified to serve, Jaeger said.

The only other candidate for insurance commissioner is Republican incumbent Jon Godfread, who is seeking a second term. A Democrat last won the office in 1996.

The insurance commissioner's annual salary is $107,885. It goes to $110,582 on July 1.

Jaeger said he has no authority to remove Martin from the ballot unless directed to do so by a court or if she refuses to accept her nomination from primary election voters. What happens next "may depend on what she provides," Jaeger said.

The issue has been raised before. North Dakota's Supreme Court in 1935 found that Gov. Thomas Moodie was ineligible to hold office as he had voted in Minnesota in 1930. He served for about a month.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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