- Associated Press - Monday, September 1, 2014

As election season enters full swing after Labor Day, North Dakota residents will begin to see advertisements for November’s midterm elections. Here are some of the most important races and ballot issues to watch.

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HIGHER EDUCATION

North Dakota voters will get to decide whether to replace the current eight-member, part-time state Board of Higher Education with a three-member, full-time commission. Proponents of the change say a permanent commission would provide a clear chain of command between higher education’s governing board and university presidents.

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ABORTION

A federal judge in April overturned a North Dakota law that bans abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can be as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant.

In 2013, legislators voted to put Measure 1 on the ballot, which will ask voters whether the state should provide “the inalienable right to life” for humans at “any stage of development.”

Anti-abortion group ND Choose Life says the measure will “give the state needed legal protection against a judge inventing a right to abortion.” They say it wouldn’t ban abortions but is meant “to protect” the state’s current laws, which include parental consent for minors seeking abortions and requiring physicians who perform abortions to have hospital-admitting privileges.

North Dakotans Against Measure 1 say the measure is vaguely written and it’s unclear what far-reaching effects it could have. Opponents also say it would lead to more government intrusion and could have unintended consequences, like “impacting end-of-life directives and infertility care.”

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PHARMACIES

Supporters of a proposed measure to change North Dakota’s pharmacy ownership law gathered enough signatures this summer to put the matter on the November ballot. If passed, the measure would change a requirement in North Dakota law that says majority ownership in pharmacies in the state must be held by a registered pharmacist. That could open the door for big-box retailers such as Wal-Mart to operate pharmacies in the state.

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CRAMER VS. SINNER

Democratic candidate George B. Sinner, the son of former governor George A. Sinner, is taking on freshman U.S. Rep. Kevin Cramer, a fixture in state Republican politics and the state’s lone voice in the House.

Sinner, of Fargo, has worked as a banker and agribusiness executive and entered politics two years ago when he won his bid to become a state senator. Cramer is a former chairman of the state Republican Party and member of the state Public Service Commission.

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STATE EXECUTIVE RACES

Six state executive positions are up for grabs in November. All are currently held by Republicans who are running again. The positions are: Attorney General, Secretary of State, Agriculture Commissioner and Tax Commissioner. Two commissioners on the Public Service Commission also are up for re-election.

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