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Election Debate Series Set to Kick Off in North Dakota

North Dakota's new voter ID law is expected to be a key topic during a debate between candidates for the Secretary of State's Office. (
North Dakota's new voter ID law is expected to be a key topic during a debate between candidates for the Secretary of State's Office. (
August 31, 2018

BISMARCK, N.D. – A bit more than two months remain until the midterm election, and a series of debates might help to inform the decisions of North Dakota voters.

AARP North Dakota is teaming up with Prairie Public Broadcasting for the events, which will be aired live on radio, television and online. State Director for AARP North Dakota Josh Askvig says the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House are among the races featured.

There will also be a debate between candidates for the Secretary of State's Office, and Askvig notes the state's new voter ID law will be a key topic.

"We're concerned about how that might impact people's ability to vote, and so we want to ask those candidates how are they going to ensure that folks' right to vote isn't infringed upon," says Askvig.

The series begins next Tuesday with a debate between candidates for the unexpired two-year Public Service Commission seat. And then Thursday the candidates for the commission's six-year Public Commission term square off.

Find the full debate schedule at:

Askvig says the congressional candidates will have many important questions to answer, including their take on policies impacting the health security of North Dakotans as they age.

"We're really encouraging folks to take a look at and listen to what the candidates say about Medicare, about Social Security, about prescription drug prices because there's been discussion about those issues at the federal level," says Askvig.

A recent AARP report showed Medicare brings almost $1.3 billion to the state economy, and accounts for about 12 percent of state and government spending.

Askvig adds that the power of older voters is real, and is especially needed this year as voter turnout is lower in midterm elections than in a presidential election.

"There's generally been a dropoff of almost 13,000 voters. And so when you have races like the U.S. Senate race, for example, that could be decided by a couple of hundred or maybe even less than a thousand votes, every vote matters."

The debates are part of AARP's "Be the Difference.Vote" campaign, which encourages older voters to cast a ballot to ensure their voices are heard this and every election.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - ND