North Dakota voters approve age limit for members of US Congress

North Dakota voters approved a ballot initiative during their primary election on Tuesday that would place an age limit on candidates in the state running for U.S. congressional seats.

The measure, believed to be the first of its kind in the country, prohibits anyone from running or serving in the U.S. House or Senate from North Dakota if they would turn 81 years old or older during their term.

However, several outlets have reported the constitutional amendment will likely be challenged in court.

A little over 60% of voters approved the measure during the state’s primary election.

It reads: “No person may be elected or appointed to serve a term or a portion of a term in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives if that person could attain 81 years of age by December 31st of the year immediately preceding the end of the term.”

If implemented, it would not affect any current U.S. Congress members from North Dakota.

The novel ban comes at a time when the age and fitness for duty of legislative leaders and presidential candidates are being heavily discussed — though age does not always lead to cognitive decline.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Should age limits be set for US elected officials in office?

The current Congress, the 118th, is the second-oldest Senate and third-oldest House in American history.

According to an NBC News analysis last year, the median age for U.S. senators is the highest on record at 65.

Currently, there are over a dozen senators over 75 years old, three of whom are over 80: Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa (90), Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (82) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (82).

McConnell faced public pressure for freezing twice during press conferences last year and having to be escorted away, but he said it wasn’t due to a stroke. The longest-serving Senate leader will step down from the role next year, but plans to finish out his Senate term, which doesn’t end until 2027.

There are at least 20 U.S. representatives who are 80 years old or older, including former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

At 81, President Joe Biden is the oldest sitting U.S. president, and he would be 86 years old by the end of a second term if he is reelected. Former President Donald Trump turns 78 this week.

The two are the oldest candidates to seek the White House, and both have argued they are fit for the position despite their age.

They’re also among the oldest world leaders, according to a report from Pew Research Center. Data shows the median age of current global leaders is 62.

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