- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 8, 2016

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The Latest on Election Day in North Dakota (all times local):

11:20 p.m.

The leader of the group that helped defeat a proposal to raise tobacco taxes in North Dakota says residents were leery about where the money was going.

The increase would have raised taxes on cigarettes by 400 percent, from 44 cents a pack to $2.20, which supporters said would keep kids from smoking.

North Dakota Retail Association President Mike Rud says his group does not support any kids using tobacco, but that the bill did not clearly define how the funds would be spent.

The money was meant to go toward public health and veterans programs. Rud says if those groups need money then “we all need to pony up to the bar” and pay for it, rather than a segment of the population.

A spokesman for measure supporters did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press.

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10:50 p.m.

North Dakota Voters have approved a measure that will allow lawmakers to tap the state’s foundation aid stabilization fund.

The fund was established in 1994 by voters. It’s been a financial backstop to North Dakota’s primary state program for supporting local elementary and high schools. It was only to be used by the governor to provide education aid if tax collections fall short.

The measure approved Tuesday allows lawmakers to use the money for education-related purposes when the principal exceeds a certain threshold.

The fund is financed by a share of North Dakota’s oil extraction tax. It currently holds about $573 million and has been growing at a rate of about $6 million monthly.

The North Dakota School Board Association opposed the measure, while the union representing teachers supported it.

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10:35 p.m.

Supporters of a measure that will allow the use of medical marijuana say the law will improve the quality of life for many North Dakotans.

North Dakota Compassionate Care spokeswoman Anita Morgan says her group is proud of residents for “standing up for patients at the polls.” She says supporters look forward to working with the state Department of Health and other officials to get the program started.

Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority says North Dakota approved the law with an effort that was “largely off the radar” and showed that any state could be next to change its laws.

The measure was opposed by the North Dakota Medical Association. The group’s executive director, Courtney Koebele, says the association is disappointed and is worried about the safety of the law and the loopholes for growing and using pot.

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10:15

North Dakota voters have approved a ballot measure that will incorporate victims’ rights provisions into the state constitution.

The measure was patterned after one pioneered in California called Marsy’s Law. The law is named after California college student Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Her brother, billionaire Henry Nicholas, has been bankrolling a national effort to expand the law into more states. He put roughly $2.5 million into efforts to pass the North Dakota measure.

Supporters said the law would bolster the rights of crime victims. But groups representing crime victims and defense attorneys and prosecutors said changing the constitution to include the provisions was a bad idea that would have unintended consequences

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10:05 p.m.

Voters in North Dakota have trumped state lawmakers by approving medical marijuana.

The measure approved Tuesday will allow qualifying patients to have up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for treatment of about a dozen debilitating conditions such as cancer, glaucoma and epilepsy. The state Health Department will issue ID cards for patients and dispensaries will be regulated.

Supporters of Measure 5 said marijuana helps relieve chronic pain and lessens side effects of other treatments such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Opponents of the measure said there were too many unanswered questions about appropriate dosages and that there weren’t enough safeguards to make sure medical marijuana is controlled.

The state Legislature rejected a medical marijuana bill last session.

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9:42 p.m.

North Dakota voters have approved a ballot measure requiring that elected state legislators live in the districts they represent.

It’s been an open secret at the Capitol over the years that a handful of lawmakers - both Democrats and Republicans - haven’t lived in the district they represent.

The North Dakota Constitution only specifies that state lawmakers live in the district from which they are elected on the day of the election.

The relaxed language spurred some lawmakers to move outside their districts once elected, which legislative leaders from both parties sought to prevent in the bipartisan resolution lawmakers passed last year.

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9:35 p.m.

North Dakotans are favoring a constitutional amendment in early returns that supporters believe will bolster the rights of crime victims in the state.

North Dakota and South Dakota are among several states where national victims’ rights advocates are pushing the so-called Marsy’s Law measure, now in effect in California and Illinois. The measure also was leading in South Dakota in early returns.

Groups representing North Dakota defense attorneys and prosecutors say changing the constitution to include the proposal is a bad idea and will have unintended consequences. They say laws already are on the books that protect victims of violent crimes.

The law is named after California college student Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, who was stalked and killed in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Her brother, billionaire Henry Nicholas, has been bankrolling a national effort to expand the law into more states. He put roughly $2.5 million into efforts to pass the North Dakota measure.

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9:20 p.m.

A measure to approve medical marijuana in North Dakota was leading in early returns.

The initiated measure that would allow qualifying patients to have up to 3 ounces of medical marijuana for certain debilitating conditions was hovering at around a 60 percent approval rate.

Voters in three other states were deciding whether to join the list of 25 states that have comprehensive medical marijuana programs and 17 states that permit limited access to the drug.

Eighteen-year-old college student Sydney Reimers, of Mandan, voted in favor of the measure and said marijuana can help “really sick people.”

The North Dakota House rejected a medical marijuana bill last session. Republican Al Carlson, the House majority leader, says there is a lack of evidence to guarantee the quality of marijuana and that the proposal is “really bad” for the state.

9:06 p.m.

Republican Kevin Cramer of North Dakota has won a third term in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Cramer defeated Democratic candidate Chase Iron Eyes and Libertarian candidate Jack Seaman.

The 55-year-old Cramer ran unsuccessfully for the House four times before breaking through in the 2012 election against Pam Gulleson. Cramer defeated George B. Sinner in the 2014 election.

Cramer has spent most of his life in public service. He began his career as director and chairman of the state Republican Party. He has served as state tourism director, state economic development director, and as a member of the state Public Service Commission.

Cramer got behind Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump early in the campaign.

8:28 p.m.

North Dakota voters have returned popular Republican lawmaker John Hoeven to the U.S. Senate for a second term.

Hoeven defeated Democratic candidate Eliot Glassheim and Libertarian candidate Robert Marquette.

The 59-year-old Hoeven previously served as North Dakota governor for 10 years. He resigned that post midway through his third term six years ago to run for Senate. He won easily over Democrat Tracy Potter, who stepped in after longtime lawmaker Byron Dorgan retired.

Hoeven is a member of the Senate appropriations, energy and natural resources, agriculture and Indian affairs committees. He serves alongside North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp.

Hoeven says a national energy strategy similar to North Dakota’s will lead to jobs, economic growth and energy security for America.

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8:14 p.m.

Former Microsoft executive Doug Burgum has defeated Rolla Rep. Marvin Nelson in North Dakota’s election for governor.

The Fargo businessman was a heavy favorite in a state that has not had a Democratic governor since 1992. Republican Gov. Jack Dalrymple decided not to seek re-election.

The matchup focused on qualifications to lead the state amid declining oil revenues.

Burgum is known in North Dakota as the “godfather of software” for building Fargo’s Great Plains Software into a billion-dollar business, which he later sold to Microsoft.

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8:10 p.m.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump had defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in North Dakota, continuing a decades-long trend.

Since North Dakota became a state in 1889, Republican candidates have swept its electoral votes in all but six presidential elections. No Democrat has carried the state since Lyndon B. Johnson did so in 1964.

Trump had support from many prominent North Dakota republicans, including outgoing Governor Jack Dalrymple, gubernatorial nominee Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven and Rep. Kevin Cramer. Democratic U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp supports Clinton for president.

Trump campaigned in Bismarck prior to the election. Former President Bill Clinton stumped in Fargo for his wife.

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2 p.m.

Feelings are mixed among North Dakota voters when it comes to a ballot measure that would legalize medical marijuana.

The measure being decided on Election Day would give people the right to buy medical marijuana from state-regulated dispensaries when a doctor prescribes it.

Thirty-three-year-old Mandan insurance agent Jesse Wiedrich says he couldn’t support it because “it’s too open-ended.”

But 18-year-old Mandan college student Sydney Reimers says it could help a lot of sick people - especially children with seizures. And 18-year-old Bismarck college student Amanda Joyce thinks it would be a good alternative to prescription pills for many people.

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12:30 p.m.

After walking a few blocks from his downtown Fargo condominium to vote, Republican governor candidate and overwhelming favorite Doug Burgum said the last few months have allowed him to focus on the future.

Burgum knocked off the party’s endorsed candidate and onetime heir apparent to the post Wayne Stenehjem, the longtime attorney general, in a contentious primary that upset many of the established Republicans. The former Microsoft Corp. executive said the general campaign gave him a chance to build relationships to help him “be effective while governing.”

North Dakota hasn’t elected a Democratic governor since 1992.

Asked about his choice for president, Burgum said he “voted for Republicans today” while criticizing Hillary Clinton’s stance on energy and agriculture. Burgum said Trump is an easy choice for “anyone who cares about the economy of North Dakota.”

12 p.m.

Many North Dakota voters don’t have a very favorable impression of this year’s presidential campaign.

Thirty-three-year-old Mandan insurance agent Jesse Wiedrich says he was so turned off by the campaigning of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump that he opted for a third-party candidate.

Wiedrich says he knows that’s kind of wasting his vote - but he didn’t want either Clinton or Trump on his voting record.

Seventy-six-year-old Mandan motel manager Patel Ghanshyam (GAN’-shum) says the language and accusations of the two candidates showed no respect.

Eighteen-year-old Sydney Reimers voted for the first time, and she thinks this might be one of the worst presidential races she’ll ever weigh in on. She says she’s all for a woman running for president, but she doesn’t think Clinton is presidential material.

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10:25 a.m.

Some North Dakota State University students say they felt uneasy about voting after being given confusing information about financial aid at an early voting site at the Fargodome on campus.

Freshman Phoebe Ellis says she and others were told voting could threaten their financial aid by changing their state residency status. Assistant Professor Chelsea Pace says more than half a dozen students told her similar stories.

It isn’t known who gave out the information. Cass County Elections Coordinator DeAnn Buckhouse says officials are looking into it. She says it would be inappropriate for a poll worker to give out such information.

NDSU Assistant Director for Civic Engagement Hailey Goplen says federal financial aid isn’t impacted by where a student votes. She says it’s also unlikely that scholarships would be affected.

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9:40 a.m.

Early voting in North Dakota appears poised to set a record.

The record for early voting in the state is about 130,000 votes in the 2012 general election. Secretary of State Al Jaeger says the most recent count shows 130,169 early ballots, with about 8 percent of absentee and mail-in ballots still to be submitted to his office.

Historically, presidential elections have drawn far more voters in North Dakota than midterm elections.

Seventy-six-year-old Mandan motel manager Patel Ghanshyam (GAN’-shum) came to the polls early on Monday simply because he was eager. The native of Uganda says he likes to exercise the freedom to express his views.

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8:40 a.m.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger says voting is going smoothly so far around North Dakota.

Polls opened at 7 a.m. across the state, and Jaeger says no problems have been reported. He’s also happy that there are no storms in the forecast.

The National Weather Service forecast calls for balmy high temperatures across the state in the 50s and 60s.

Jaeger isn’t making any predictions on voter turnout, but he says more people typically show up at the polls for presidential elections. Four years ago, turnout was about 61 percent.

The most popular election in North Dakota was in 1984, when turnout was 69 percent.

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7 a.m.

Polls are opening across North Dakota and Election Day voting is getting underway.

Polling sites can open at 7 a.m. under state law, and stay open until 9 p.m.

Voters are greeted by some balmy late-fall weather. The National Weather Service forecast calls for high temperatures across the state in the 50s and 60s, with no rain.

Voters will choose North Dakota’s next governor and decide ballot measures that would legalize medical marijuana, raise the tax on tobacco products and guarantee certain rights to crime victims.

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00:05 a.m.

The most suspenseful races on the North Dakota ballot aren’t at the top.

Voters will choose their next governor and have their say in the presidential race, but Republicans Doug Burgum and Donald Trump are seen as heavy favorites. It’s a handful of ballot questions that offer the most intrigue Tuesday.

One asks voters whether they’d like to legalize medical marijuana - giving people the right to buy from state-regulated dispensaries when a doctor prescribes it.

Another would raise the tobacco tax in a big way, although it would be the first time in nearly a quarter century. The money would go to public health funds, including one for veterans.

A third would guarantee certain rights to crime victims.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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