Burleigh County Commission reverses vote on changing precinct boundaries

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The goal was make voting easier, but the State's attorney says the Burleigh County Commission overstepped when changing precinct boundaries.

Without the authority to change the precincts in Bismarck, the Burleigh County Commission voted to keep the lines the same as in 2016. Commissioner Kathleen Jones says this commission didn't know they lacked the authority.

"We're going to be progressive thinking about this in the future and we're going to be working with as many people that wanna work on it,” said Jones.

Commissioners thought they had that power under a 1993 joint powers agreement between the county and city. Representative Larry Klemin said that law helps make sure all voices are heard.

"The law envisions that there have to be a cooperative effort between all the political subdivisions and the district representatives to determine precinct,” said Klemin.

Including the voters, which is who the original move was supposed to help according to Jones.

"A lot of times those precincts get a little crowded and overwhelming for people,” said Jones.

The commission will look to change for the 2020 elections. The vote to use the 2016 lines was unanimous.