North Dakota voters to decide an amendment changing the constitutional language used to describe certain state institutions in 2024

The North Dakota State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the Nov. 2024 ballot that would change the language used in the state constitution to describe certain state institutions.

Under the amendment, the following institutions would be renamed:

  • the State School for the Deaf and Dumb in Devils Lake would become the state School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing;
  • the State Hospital for the Insane in Jamestown would become the State Hospital for the Care of Individuals with Mental Illness; and
  • the Institution for the Feeble-Minded in Grafton would become “a facility for individuals with developmental disabilities.”

State Rep. Kathy Frelich (R), who works at the school for the deaf in Devils Lake, sponsored the amendment. Frelich said, “At one time, ‘dumb’ may have referred to someone who was mute. But this is not what we think of now when we use that term.”

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a simple majority vote is required in both the North Dakota State Senate and the North Dakota House of Representatives. The amendment, Senate Concurrent Resolution 4001, was approved unanimously in the Senate on Jan. 17 and unanimously in the House on March 22.

From 1996 through 2022, the state legislature referred 37 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved 24 and rejected 13 of the referred amendments. The average number of amendments appearing on the ballot was about three. The approval rate of referred amendments at the ballot box was 64.9% from 1996 through 2022. The rejection rate was 35.1%.

As of March 22, 20 statewide ballot measures have been certified for the ballot in 10 states for elections in 2024.

From 2010 to 2022, the average number of statewide ballot measures in an even-numbered year was 161.

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