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ND GOP chides Dems for Alerus rally

State Capitol Bureau BISMARCK - The North Dakota Republican Party says the Democrats' rally in the Alerus Center on Saturday violates the spirit of a state law that prohibits campaigning near a polling place on Election Day. Republican Party Chai...

State Capitol Bureau

BISMARCK - The North Dakota Republican Party says the Democrats' rally in the Alerus Center on Saturday violates the spirit of a state law that prohibits campaigning near a polling place on Election Day.

Republican Party Chairman Gary Emineth of Bismarck based his request on the rally's proximity to an early voting site already set up at the opposite end of the Alerus Center.

The rally will feature Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean.

Democratic-NPL Chairman David Strauss said the Republicans' charge is "an absurd reading of the law," in part because Election Day is not until Tuesday.

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Jamie Selzler, the Democrats' executive director, said Republicans have many political signs "everywhere around the Alerus," including less than 100 feet from the early voting site.

State law says political signs can't be less than 100 feet from the "outermost entrance" to a polling place on Election Day.

Emineth said Wednesday he wrote a letter to Strauss requesting Democrats refrain from campaigning at state polling places.

"North Dakota law clearly states that it is illegal to campaign on Election Day," he said.

"For the Democrats to hold a rally at an early voting location at a minimum violates the spirit of the law and pollutes the integrity of our polling locations."

He said early voting sites, in effect, stretch Election Day in some areas to more than a week's time.

Strauss said the question of the rally location was "fully vetted by the state party's lawyer, the DNC legal counsel and the (Barack) Obama legal team."

He said the early voting polling place is set up in the south end of the huge Alerus Center and the Democrats' rally is in the far north end of the Alerus complex in a small ballroom near the entrance to the connected Canad Inn, Strauss said.

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Cole works for Forum Communications Co., which owns The Forum. She can be reached at (701) 224-0830 or forumcap@btinet.net

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