Group pushes mandatory retirement of 80 for North Dakota members of Congress

North Dakotans are not represented in Washington by a 90-year old like California Senator Diane Feinstein, whose frail health and memory have prompted widespread calls for her resignation. They don’t have a member in the state delegation that’s even close to the age of 80.

But a group called Retire Congress North Dakota hopes to give residents the chance to vote on a constitutional ballot question to impose an 80-year old age limit on the state’s congressional delegation next year. The AP notes that age limits enjoy widespread public support nationally and in North Dakota.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Michael Howe announced his office is reviewing the proposed petition for the measure for approval in order for supporters to circulate it for voter signatures.

No one who “could attain 81 years of age” by the end of their term could be elected or appointed to the state’s U.S. House or Senate seats, under the proposal.

Petitioners would need to gather 31,164 signatures from North Dakota voters in order to put the measure on the ballot, which could be either the June primary or November general election ballot next year, depending on when supporters submit signatures.

Minimum age restrictions already exist for the U.S. president (35), congressional representatives (25) and senators (35). Like 30 other states, North Dakota places what amounts to a de facto age limit on state judges by requiring them to apply for retirement before they turn 73 or lose their pension and benefits.

The leader of the age limit drive led a popular term limits ballot initiative that passed last last year, restricting legislators to eight years in the state house and senate, as well as capping the time governors spend in office to two terms.

[Jared] Hendrix told The Associated Press that supporters of the measure “believe in principle that there should be a retirement age for Congress,” citing the median age for retirement of all Americans being 64, “although many do work longer.”

National and in-state polling indicate support for congressional age limits “even at 70, but that support is overwhelming at age 80,” he said.

One provision of the proposal calls for a “ballot advisory” for noting how old congressional candidates would be by the end of their term “in the event superior law requires age-limited candidates to appear on the ballot.”

It’s been 31 years since North Dakota had an octogenarian in office. But currently 17 members of Congress exceed the age of 80, including five senators and 12 representatives.