North Dakotans approve age limit for members of Congress

North Dakota voters approved a ballot measure setting a maximum age for representing the state in Congress, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. Experts said they believe North Dakota is the first state to impose such a requirement on members of Congress, although they said the measure would likely be challenged in court.

The ballot measure, aimed at amending the North Dakota Constitution, prohibits congressional candidates who would be 81 or older by the end of the year before the end of their term from being eligible.

The measure provides a rare glimpse into how a state’s voters view age, at a time when questions about the effectiveness of older political leaders are part of the national debate.

The campaign in North Dakota to impose an age limit on the state’s members of Congress began as many Americans questioned whether age should be a factor in this year’s presidential race. President Biden is 81 years old and his opponent, former President Donald J. Trump, is 77 years old.

From a practical standpoint, the rule poses no threat to the state’s three current federal lawmakers, all Republicans, ages 47 to 67.

Jared Hendrix, 41, a Republican politician from Fargo who led the effort to put the issue on the ballot, said he saw an opportunity to elevate the debate over the ability of older politicians to govern effectively.

“I think it’s very possible that if we succeed, other states will follow,” he said before the election.

In 2022, Mr. Hendrix led a successful effort to set term limits for governors and state legislators.

North Dakota anticipated the new measure would be challenged in court if approved. A 1995 Supreme Court case established that states cannot add eligibility restrictions beyond those provided by the Constitution. The Constitution sets a minimum age for serving in Congress — 25 in the House and 30 in the Senate — but federal affiliates can serve as long as they continue to win elections.

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