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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A group that wants to change to the state constitution to explicitly bar non-U.S. citizens from voting in elections is a step closer to bringing the matter to a public vote.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger (JAY’-gur) on Thursday announced he approved for circulation a petition for the proposed constitutional amendment.

The amendment’s supporters need to get signatures from at least 26,904 North Dakota voters by July 9 to put the measure on the November ballot.

Gary Emineth, a candidate for the state Senate seat in Bismarck, submitted the proposed constitutional amendment earlier this month.

The North Dakota Constitution already defines a voter as a U.S. citizen. But Emineth says the wording is “ambiguous” and another section is proposed for clarity.