Secretary of State Al Jaeger said a Libertarian Public Service Commission candidate was left off the June primary ballot because his paperwork was mixed up with business registration documents in his Capitol office mail.
Jaeger and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said Joshua Voytek’s name will be listed on the November ballot, even though North Dakota law requires statewide primary candidates to get at least 300 votes to be eligible to run in the fall.
Jaeger, a Republican who has been secretary of state for 18 years, is up for re-election this fall, and the error drew quick criticism from his Democratic opponent, Grand Forks state Rep. Corey Mock.
“Leaving a statewide candidate off the ballot is entirely
unacceptable, and the people of North Dakota need to know that they have a secretary of state who can run elections,” Mock said Thursday.
Voytek, 26, of Fargo, had expected to be listed on the June ballot alongside Libertarian candidates for the U.S. Senate and state tax commissioner. He mailed the required forms, including a candidate affidavit and statement of his financial interests, to Jaeger’s office in early April, well before the April 9 filing deadline, he said.
When Voytek called to check on his status after the deadline passed, he was told Jaeger never got any documents from him, Voytek said.
“I figured maybe something had gotten lost in the mail,” Voytek said. “I felt like I had done everything on my end that was sufficient, so I just didn’t know what had happened.”
Jaeger said the documents were mistakenly attached to other business registration paperwork in his office when the mail received April 8 was opened. Voytek’s papers were discovered May 25, Jaeger said Thursday. The election was June 8.
“We have never had anything like this happen before,” Jaeger said. “We feel really bad about it.”
Once Voytek’s papers were found, Jaeger said he consulted Stenehjem’s office about what to do next. Stenehjem said in an interview that the best resolution would be to put Voytek on the November ballot, because he would be likely to win a lawsuit claiming that he had a right to the spot.
Mock said he wondered whether Voytek was eligible to run in the general election, “unless Jaeger is making up his own regulations.”
Jaeger told Voytek about the snafu Wednesday, more than three weeks after it was discovered. Voytek said he was satisfied with Jaeger’s handling of the error.
Two other Libertarian statewide candidates were unopposed in their party’s June 8 primary, and both qualified for the general election. U.S. Senate hopeful Keith Hanson got 535 votes in unofficial returns, while tax commissioner candidate Richard Flattum-Riemers got 391 votes.
A total of 102,031 North Dakotans voted in the primary, according to unofficial returns.