North Dakota ‘first-in-nation’ to set age restrictions on congressional candidates

Congressional candidates from the state of North Dakota will have to abide by new age restrictions thanks to a measure approved by voters this week.

The Congressional Age Limits Initiative was given the green light by 60.88% of voters after Tuesday’s vote, according to the North Dakota Secretary of State, putting an age limit restriction on anyone running for the U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives.

Candidates who will turn 81 by Dec. 31 of the year before their term ends are prohibited from running for office as many voters found the measure to be a “common sense” approach to a problem.

The constitutional amendment establishes that “no person may be elected or appointed to serve a term or a portion of a term representing North Dakota in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives if that person could be 81 years old by December 31 of the year immediately preceding the end of the term, and any such person is prohibited from appearing on the ballot.”

(Video Credit: Valley News Live)

“It is believed to be the first-in-the-nation measure imposing age limits on candidates running for federal office, but it’s also expected to be challenged in court,” NBC News noted.

Republican politician Jared Hendrix, who chairs Retire Congress North Dakota, led the effort to secure the needed signatures to get the measure on the ballot.

“Most people think it’s common sense that politicians should retire at some point,” he said, according to the New York Times. “I think it’s very possible that if we pull this off here, other states will follow.”

“We do think that there is a lot of wisdom that comes with age. But, of course, there’s a limit, to where we all face a decline of some kind at some point. And so, we wanted to try to find the right balance. We thought 80 was the balance,” the GOP lawmaker told PBS News Hour before Tuesday’s vote.

(Video Credit: PBS News Hour)

Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer, who ran unopposed and won the primary Tuesday, has been against Measure 1.

“To limit those decisions arbitrarily just doesn’t make sense to me,” he told the Associated Press.

North Dakota’s current members of Congress are under the age of 70 so the new rule does not apply to them yet. The vote and push for an age cap comes as the nation expresses concerns over the age of President Joe Biden, who is 81. Former President Donald Trump will be turning 78 on Friday.

“The late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died in office at 90 last September, had rejected repeated calls from her Democratic colleagues to step down, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, 82, announced in February that he will step down as GOP leader after suffering a string of high-profile health incidents in the past year,” CNN noted.

Frieda Powers

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