Part 3: In a Nutshell

  • Local government is government smaller than state government.
  • North Dakota is divided into 53 counties.
  • County governments help the state government carry out its duties.
  • The county seat is the town that contains the courthouse and county offices.
  • The County Commission is the main governing body of a county.
  • County officials are elected on no-party ballots.
  • The sheriff is the police officer of the county.
  • The state’s attorney is a lawyer who represents the state at the county level.
  • The county recorder is in charge of documents.
  • The county treasurer is in charge of the county’s money.
  • The county auditor is the bookkeeper for the county.
  • Counties are divided into squares called “townships.”
  • Each township measures six miles on each side for a total of 36 sections.
  • Townships are managed by three-member boards called “township supervisors” who are elected by the township residents.
  • A budget is a plan for spending money.
  • An assessor determines how much property is worth for tax purposes.
  • A city government provides services for residents of the city.
  • The mayor is the chief executive of a city.
  • City laws are called ordinances.
  • North Dakota has five tribal nations located within its border.
  • American Indian tribes are sovereign, or self-governing.
  • North Dakota state government does not have authority over the American Indian tribes located in the state.
  • Each tribe has its own constitution, or plan of government.
  • A chair (chairman or chairwoman) is the chief executive officer of a tribe.
  • Each tribe has its own tribal council and court system.
  • The North Dakota Indian Affairs Commission helps the state and the tribes work together.
  • Politics is the method by which groups make decisions about government.
  • A political party tries to get its candidates elected to office.
  • A candidate is a person who is trying to get elected.
  • The two major political parties in the United States are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party.
  • Independents may sometimes vote for Republicans, sometimes for Democrats, and sometimes for third-party candidates.
  • Political parties are not involved in the elections of no-party candidates.
  • A North Dakota voter must be at least 18 years of age, a U.S. citizen, a resident of North Dakota, and a resident of the precinct, or voting district, for at least 30 days.
  • North Dakota is the only state that does not require voter registration.
  • Places to vote are called “polls.”
  • Voting in the United States is done by secret ballot.
  • A person may vote from home by absentee ballot which is a type of secret ballot.