GRAND FORKS — According to early results Tuesday evening, North Dakota’s higher education governing body will not be expanding.
As of 5 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, approximately 73% of voters had voted against Measure 1, which sought to expand the North Dakota State Board of Higher Education from eight members to 15. Approximately 332,622 votes have been tabulated; 241,287 had voted against the measure.
The constitutional amendment also would have increased board term lengths from four years to six. Additionally the measure would have prohibited state employees, officials and legislators from being members. The board oversees North Dakota’s 11 public colleges and universities.
Board members are appointed to the position by the governor. They currently can serve up to two four-year terms. The board also includes a faculty and staff representative, both of whom are nonvoting members, and a student representative who can serve for a year and also is appointed by the governor.
Student members would not have been allowed to serve more than two consecutive terms under the ballot measure.
The Dakota Leadership PAC, a political committee that gets most of its funding from Gov. Doug Burgum, sought to oppose the ballot measure this fall with mailers that asked residents to vote against the measure because it was a “bad idea” that would grow bureaucracy, add red tape and waste taxpayer money.
Conversations about expanding the board’s membership began to grow in the last few years.
Burgum pitched the idea to expand the board, while also creating a subpanel system within the board. The idea stemmed from months of higher education task force meetings.
State Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, who was up for reelection Tuesday, said in October that the Dakota Leadership PAC may have been opposing the measure because it would make creating a three-tiered board more difficult in the coming years.