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Citizen voting measure headed for North Dakota ballot

Gary Emineth, left, laughs as he submits signatures on Friday, July 6, for a ballot measure to amend North Dakota's constitution to ensure only U.S. citizens can vote in North Dakota elections. John Hageman / Forum News Service

BISMARCK — North Dakota voters will decide whether to amend the state constitution this fall with language aimed at ensuring only U.S. citizens can vote in elections here, Secretary of State Al Jaeger said Friday, Aug. 10.

A group led by former state Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth, who's running for the state Senate in Bismarck this year, submitted 35,637 signatures last month, well above the 26,904 necessary to get a constitutional measure on the ballot. Jaeger's office said Friday 32,786 signatures were verified.

Emineth has said that the constitution's language was "ambiguous" on the issue and the measure's backers "wanted to get out ahead" of any local governments that many want to allow noncitizens to vote. Deputy Secretary of State Jim Silrum previously said he wasn't aware of any convictions for noncitizens voting here.

The proposal is the second to be confirmed for the November ballot — one adding anti-corruption language to the state's constitution was approved last month. Jaeger's office is still reviewing signatures for measures legalizing recreational marijuana and another seeking personalized vehicle plates for volunteer emergency responders.

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