BISMARCK — Two candidates who were defeated in North Dakota's June primary election are suing Gov. Doug Burgum and Secretary of State Al Jaeger, alleging election irregularities and violations of executive power.
The lawsuit filed by Roland Riemers and Charles Tuttle says Burgum overstepped his authority by making the election mail-in only in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The lawsuit, which also accuses the state of setting conditions that led to voter suppression, calls for the election to be annulled.
Riemers, an ideological libertarian, lost by a wide margin to Zach Raknerud in the Democratic-NPL primary race for U.S. House of Representatives. Tuttle failed to advance to the November election in the nonpartisan race for state superintendent, with incumbent Kirsten Baesler and fellow challenger Brandt Dick moving on.
Jaeger and Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki declined to comment on the matter because of the ongoing nature of the lawsuit. Liz Brocker, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, said the office is "reviewing the pleadings" but declined to comment further.
Riemers called the mail-in election "a complete flub," saying "thousand of citizens were not able to cast their ballots, or their ballots were tossed out or they never received their ballots in the mail." He offered no evidence to support the claim.
Tuttle said he has been in contact with several "disenfranchised voters," but he said he wouldn't name them in case they are involved in future legal proceedings. The Minot resident added that "all we have to do is prove one voter is disenfranchised."
Though it calls for the election to be voided, Riemers said the focus of the lawsuit is not to overturn the results. Riemers said he wants to have "elections that follow state and federal law and which allows everyone a fair chance to vote," adding that if a new election were held, it probably wouldn't change the outcome.