Because of Constitution Error, North Dakota is Not a State (and Never Has Been)

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A constitutional error recently discovered shows that North Dakota has never technically fit the requirements for statehood.

John Rolczynski, an 82-year old Grand Forks resident, discovered the error in 1995 and has been been campaigning to fix North Dakota’s constitution ever since. The problem lies in the state constitution’s omission in requiring the governor and other top officials to take an oath of office. In failing to require these oaths, North Dakota’s constitution is at odds with federal requirements established by Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, therefore making statehood illegitimate.

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After nearly 16 years of fighting to change the constitution, Rolczynski may finally see his goal accomplished: Senator Tim Mathern of Fargo introduced a bill this spring that would fix the error.

According to Valley News Live, Rolczynski has found another mistake in North Dakota’s constitution that he also intends to see corrected. This time, the error centers on which river defines the state’s eastern border.

North Dakota became a state in 1889. (Well, technically.)

Everett Rosenfeld is a TIME contributor. Find him on Twitter at @Ev_Rosenfeld. You can also continue the discussion on TIME‘s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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