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ND Voters to be asked if age limits should be set for Congressional candidates

When North Dakota voters go to the polls June 11, they will be greeted by a significant number of candidates seeking a seat in federal, state or local government. But, as Todd McDonald reports, when it comes to measures on the ballot, there will be only one…

"The constitutional measure, it's what will be measure one on your June primary ballot, and that relates to congressional age limits."

Michael Howe is Secretary of State for North Dakota. He says if approved, the state's constitution would be amended to cap the age of a North Dakota congressman or U.S. Senator at age 81.

"And it states that if you achieve the age of 81 at any point in your term, you would be ineligible to run or serve North Dakota in the U.S. Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives. So there's six-year Senate terms. If you were 77 years old, obviously, you would be turning 81 at some point of that term, which would deem you ineligible."

Howe says he can't speak for the sponsoring committee that brought the issue forward, but he says the issue is certainly part of the current national discussion.

"With our two presidential candidates, of the leading candidates, both in their late 70s and early 80s, a lot of the members of the United States Senate are in that 70- to 80-year-old range. I know I've seen polling nationwide, people frustrated with older people representing them. So this may be a reaction to that."

Howe says while it might be a sign of the times, there could also be other elements behind the idea.

"If people in North Dakota do choose to put this into the North Dakota Constitution, the validity and the constitutionality of it may be challenged in court."

Howe says there are currently three measures in the signature-gathering stage. They could be on the November ballot, and there's also three measures proposed by the state legislature that voters will decide.