Duties of the Secretary of State

Currently, the office of Secretary of State is authorized in Article V, Section 2, of the North Dakota Constitution (as amended by the voters June 11, 1996, and effective July 1, 1997). The duties of the Secretary of State are defined in various parts of the state's constitution, in numerous state statutes, and in the agency's administrative rules.

In the constitution, the duties are found in Article III, related to initiative and referral powers of the people; Article IV, Section 12, related to choosing a winner by a toss of a coin if two or more legislative candidates have an equal and highest number of votes; Article IV, Section 13, related to the filing of legislative bills; Article V, Section 5, related to term of office; Article V, Section 11, related to succession in the event of a vacancy in the office of Governor and Lieutenant Governor; Article IX, Section 3, related to membership on the Board of University and School Lands; Article X, Section 17, related to the certificates regarding bonds or evidence of indebtedness on the part of the state.

In state statute, the general duties of the Secretary of State are established in Chapter 54-09; in Title 16.1 as they relate to elections; in Title 10 as they pertain to various business structures. e.g., corporate and limited liability company farming, cooperative associations, business corporations, development corporations, venture capital corporations, community development corporations, professional organizations, limited liability companies, nonprofit corporations, and real estate investment trusts; in Title 35 as they relate to the filing of various liens; in Title 41 as they relate to the Uniform Commercial Code; in Title 45 as they pertain to general partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability partnerships and limited liability limited partnerships; and in various other sections of state law related to the state's Great Seal, contractors, lobbying, charitable solicitation, and other miscellaneous duties.

Under both the provisions of the Constitution and the North Dakota Century Code, the Secretary of State serves on the following boards, commissions, and advisory capacities:

  • Board of University and School Lands (North Dakota Constitution, Article IX, Section 3)
  • Emergency Commission (also serves as secretary of the commission) NDCC § 54-16-01)
  • State Historical Board (NDCC § 55-01-01)
  • State Canvassing Board (NDCC § 16.1-15-33)
  • Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award (NDCC § 54-02-07 )

The Secretary of State:


  • Custodian of the Great Seal and other official state documents;
  • Keeps a register of and attests the official acts of the Governor;
  • Serves as member and secretary of the Emergency Commission, member of the Board of University and School Lands, member of the Board for the State Historical Society, member of the Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Awards Committee, and secretary of the State Canvassing Board;
  • Is the Commissioner of Combative Sports;
  • Distributes the North Dakota Century Code, the North Dakota Administrative Code, and the North Dakota sessions laws;
  • Biennially publishes and distributes the North Dakota Blue Book;
  • Receives, records, and files original bills and resolutions from each Legislative Assembly; and
  • Distributes copies of legislative resolutions as prescribed by law.


  • Is the state's chief election officer and trains county election officials;
  • Prescribes the form and content of statewide election ballots;
  • Receives and files petitions for initiated, constitutional, and referred measures;
  • Receives candidate filings from individuals seeking statewide, legislative, or judicial office;
  • Files oaths of office for legislative, judicial, and executive officials;
  • Files campaign disclosure reports of statewide and legislative candidates, state political parties, district political parties, political committees, political action committees, and measure committees; and
  • Certifies names of elected legislative members to each house of the Legislative Assembly.


  • Registers lobbyists;
  • Licenses contractors;
  • Registers charitable organizations;
  • Registers professional fundraisers; and
  • Commissions notaries public.


  • Files Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) documents, agricultural liens, and other miscellaneous liens; and
  • Maintains computer network with state's fifty-three county Recorders.


  • Records trademarks and trade names;
  • Files and maintains records for partnership fictitious name certificates, limited liability partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability limited partnerships, and real estate investments trusts;
  • Files and maintains records for domestic and foreign for-profit and nonprofit corporations, state banks, credit unions, and cooperatives;
  • Files and maintains records for domestic and foreign limited liability companies; and
  • Files and maintains records for home rule cities and counties.