AN ACT TO RESTORE CONFIDENCE IN GOVERNMENT BY AMENDING THE CONSTITUTION OF NORTH CAROLINA TO ESTABLISH AN INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION, REENACTING LEGISLATION THAT ESTABLISHED A NONPARTISAN METHOD OF ELECTING SUPREME COURT JUSTICES AND COURT OF APPEALS JUDGES BEGINNING 2020, REENACTING THE PUBLIC FINANCING FUND FOR VARIOUS JUDICIAL CAMPAIGNS, EXTENDING THE WAITING PERIOD FOR FORMER LEGISLATORS WHO BECOME LOBBYISTS, MODERNIZING THE VOTER REGISTRATION PROCESS ESTABLISHING THE FAIR ELECTIONS PROGRAM, INCREASING TRANSPARENCY IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS BY REQUIRING FORTY-EIGHT HOURS NOTICE OF MEETINGS OF ALL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES, AND DIRECTING THE LEGISLATIVE SERVICES OFFICER TO DEVELOP A PLAN TO PROVIDE LIVE VIDEO AND AUDIO STREAMING OF ALL MEETINGS OF LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES AND COMMISSIONS MEETING IN THE LEGISLATIVE COMPLEX.
Includes whereas clauses.
Subject to voter approval at the statewide election in November 2018, amends Sections 3 and 5 and adds new Section 25 to Article II of the North Carolina Constitution, providing for an Independent Redistricting Commission to present three redistricting plans to the General Assembly for purposes of electing members of the General Assembly and members of the US House of Representatives, and authorizing the Independent Redistricting Commission to adopt one of the redistricting plans submitted to the General Assembly if the General Assembly fails to adopt one of the plans within 90 days of receipt, which will have the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly. If approved, the amendments to Sections 3 and 5 of Article II are effective beginning with the redistricting done upon the return of the 2020 decennial census, and new Section 25 of Article II is effective January 1, 2019.
If approved as described above, amends Sections 3 and 5 of Article II to modify the goals of Senate and House districts to be: (1) one person, one vote to ensure each voter's vote counts; (2) contiguous districts that minimize the number of split counties, municipalities, and other communities of interest and limit the splitting of precincts to the extent federal law requires it; and (3) compactness to avoid elongated and irregularly shaped districts.
If approved as described above, new Section 25 of Article II establishes the Independent Redistricting Commission (Commission) consisting of nine members. Details the Commission's membership to be: (1) four members of the House, with two appointed by the Speaker and two members appointed by the leader of the political party with the next highest or equal number of House members; (2) four members of the Senate, with two appointed by the President Pro Tempore and two appointed by the leader of the political party with the next highest or equal number of Senate members; and (3) one member appointed by the Governor, who is unaffiliated with any political party, from a list of two qualified nominees submitted by the majority of persons appointed by the House and Senate. Provides for appointment in situations where two or more parties have equal membership to the Speaker or President Pro Tempore's party. Prohibits persons who have served on the Commission from holding any elective public office for four years after serving on the Commission. Details the duties of the Commission to be presenting three redistricting plans each for revising the Senate districts, the House of Representatives districts, and the US House of Representatives districts, and adopting a plan by majority vote if the General Assembly fails to approve a plan within 90 days of receipt that has the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly.
Effective January 1, 2019, if the above described constitutional amendments are approved, enacts Part 2A to Article 20 of GS Chapter 163A, Redistricting, that provides the following.
Enacts GS 163A-1080, further detailing the appointment of Commission members. Provides for appointment in situations where three or more parties have equal membership to the Speaker or President Pro Tempore's party. Requires the appointing officers to appoint initial members to the Commission as soon as practicable after the statute becomes law. Requires subsequent appointments, other than vacancies, by the appointing officers other than the Governor to be made no earlier than February 1 of the year prior to the year in which appointed members are to take office and no later than March 1 of the year in which the members are to take office. Directs the appointing officers of the eight Commission members appointed by March 1 to reflect the geographic, gender, racial, and ethnic diversity in the state in the Commission's membership. Requires the eight members appointed by March 1 to submit a list of two nominees for the ninth member to the Governor by May 1 of the year in which members are to take office, and requires the Governor to appoint the ninth member from the list no later than June 1 of the year in which the members are to take office. Provides for the dismissal of the eight members appointed by March 1, effective May 2, if they are unable to submit a list of two nominees for the ninth member to the Governor by May 1 of the year in which they are to take office, in which case the appointing officers must appoint eight new members who must submit a list of two nominees to the Governor within 30 days of their appointment. Requires the continuance of this process until a group of eight members is able to successfully submit a list of two nominees for the ninth member to the Governor, from which the Governor must appoint the ninth member from the list within two weeks of receipt.
Establishes that the initial members of the Commission take office in 2019 as soon as practicable after their appointment, serving until their successors are appointed and qualified. Beginning in the year 2030, provides for new members to take office on the first day of July, or as soon as practicable thereafter, of each year ending in the number zero, serving until their successors are appointed and qualified. Provides for vacancies for unexpired terms to be filled by the holder of the office which appointed the vacating member. Requires a majority of remaining Commission members to submit a list of two qualified nominees to the Governor in the event of a vacancy the Governor is authorized to fill, with the Governor filling the vacancy from that list. Provides for Commission members to elect a chair to serve the Commission throughout the term unless replaced by vote of the Commission.
Details Commission member eligibility, including: (1) being a state resident; (2) having been registered to vote in the state for at least five years prior to commencement of service; (3) having voted in each of the three statewide general elections occurring prior to commencement of service; (4) having not in the prior 10 years prior to commencement of service held or been a candidate for an elective public office; received compensation from a political party, public body, candidate for public office, or the campaign or campaign committee for a candidate for elective public office; served as a member of a political party's executive committee; been a registered lobbyist; worked as a full-time paid staff member of the General Assembly or Congress; or contributed $2,000 or more to any candidate for public office; (5) not having a spouse, parent, sibling, or child who would be excluded under the previous provision; and (6) having not been dismissed after appointment to the Commission by March 1 for failure to submit qualified nominees for the ninth member of the Commission to the Governor.
Houses the Commission in the Legislative Services Office of the General Assembly. Requires the Commission to contract independent staff to prepare redistricting plans pursuant to new Section 25 of Article II of the Constitution. Subjects the Commission to the Public Records Act and the Open Meetings Law set out in GS Chapter 132 and GS Chapter 143.
Enacts GS 163A-1081, providing for the presentation and adoption of redistricting plans. Requires the Commission to present to the General Assembly three plans for revising the Senate districts and three plans for revising the House districts. Provides that each of the bills must be voted on under a procedure or rule permitting no amendments except those that are purely corrective. Requires any bill approved on third reading by the first house in which it is considered to be expeditiously brought to a vote in the second house under a similar procedure or rule. Requires the General Assembly to adopt one Senate plan and one House plan presented by the Commission within 90 days of receiving the plans. Requires the Commission to adopt one of the plans submitted to the General Assembly by majority vote if none of the bills embodying a plan submitted by the Commission is approved by the General Assembly within 90 days of receipt, which will have the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly.
Requires the Commission to present to the General Assembly three district plans for the election of members of the House of Representatives of the US Congress. Provides for identical parameters for the consideration and adoption of a congressional plan as described above for legislative plans, including the requirement of the Commission to adopt a district plan by majority vote if none of the bills embodying a plan submitted by the Commission is approved by the General Assembly within 90 days of receipt, which will have the force and effect of acts of the General Assembly.
Establishes that district plans must be adopted no later than October 1 of the year following the decennial census of population taken by order of Congress. When preparing or adopting a plan, prohibits the Commission from considering the location of incumbents' residences or demographic data from sources other than the US Bureau of Census. Limits the Commission's use of Census racial and ethnic data for purposes of compliance with the US Constitution and laws enacted pursuant to the Constitution. Requires the Commission to ensure that districts are contiguous and do not create an unfair advantage for one party over the other. Requires the Commission to ensure there is a minimum period of 45 days of public comment on a plan before it is submitted to the General Assembly, with at least one public hearing in each and every congressional district in the State with adequate notice to the public.
Provides for the adoption of a new district plan as required by new GS 163A-1081 in the event that an adopted plan is held invalid. Requires the General Assembly and the Commission to take into account all relevant requirements of the US Constitution and acts of Congress in adopting a plan, as well as comply with the NC Constitution. Expressly authorizes the General Assembly to assign to the Commission the duty to prepare districting and redistricting plans for any county, city, town, special district, and other governmental subdivision if the governing board of the unit or a court of competent jurisdiction so requests.
Enacts new Article 28 to GS Chapter 163A, Nomination and Election of Appellate Justices and Judges, providing the following.
New GS 163A-1700 provides for the applicability of Article 28 to the nomination and election of justices of the Supreme Court and judges of the Court of Appeals (hereafter, justices and judges).
New GS 163A-1701 provides for a nonpartisan primary election method for the nomination of justices and judges when there are more than two candidates for a single office or the number of candidates for a group of offices exceeds twice the number of positions to be filled when the filing period closes. Provides for the canvass of the primary and determination of nominations in the primary and election winners.
New GS 163A-1702 provides for the form for notice of candidacy, the withdrawal of candidacy, and the certification of the candidate as a registered voter. Requires justices and judges to file their notices of candidacy with the State Board no earlier than noon on the second Monday in February and no later than noon on the last business day in February preceding the election. Prohibits any person from filing a notice of candidacy for more than one office or group of offices governed by Article 28 or GS 163A-974, including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, all State executive officers, superior and district court judges, US Congress members, and district attorneys. Requires designation of candidacy at the time of filing when there are two or more vacancies for the office of justice or judge.
New GS 163A-1703 establishes a filing fee of 1% of the annual salary of the office sought. Provides for fee refunds for the withdrawal of candidacy or upon death of the candidate, as specified.
New GS 163A-1704 provides for the filing of a written petition in lieu of payment of the filing fee, as specified.
New GS 163A-1705 provides for the certification of notices of candidacy by the State Board and subsequent notification of local boards of elections.
New GS 163A-1706 authorizes the State Board to extend the filing period for five days for any offices for which candidates have not filed that are to be filled under Article 28. Details the process to be followed when a candidate is disqualified or dies before the primary, a candidate is alive and fails to withdraw after close of filing, or a candidate dies, is qualified, or fails to qualify after the person is elected.
New GS 163A-1707 provides for elections to fill a vacancy in an office that is created after the primary filing period opens but more than 60 days before the general election. Provides that the State Board must designate a special filing period of one week for candidates for that office. Provides for a second primary election if two or more qualified candidates file and the vacancy occurs more than 63 days before the date of the second primary for members of the General Assembly, and a general election if two or more qualified candidates file and the vacancy occurs more than 64 days before the date of the second primary which must be held on the same day as the general election for members of the General Assembly.
New GS 163A-1708 permits any person who will become qualified by age or residence to register to vote in the general election for which the primary is held, even though not so qualified by the date of the primary, to register for the primary and general election prior to the primary and then to vote in the primary after being registered. Prohibits such persons from registering earlier than 60 days nor later than the last day for making application to register for primary elections pursuant to GS 163A-865(d) prior to the primary.
New GS 163A-1709 sets the primary date for the same date as established for primary elections under GS 163A-700(b), which provides for primaries to be on the Tuesday next after the first Monday in May preceding each general election to be held in November.
New GS 163A-1710 provides for the form of official ballots. Requires official ballots to be printed by the county board of elections, as specified. Provides requirements for the distribution of official ballots.
New GS 163A-1711 provides for counting ballots in primaries and elections to be in the same manner for nonpartisan municipal elections under Part 2 of Article 27 of GS Chapter 163A.
New GS 163A-1712 establishes that the conduct of elections are governed by Article 20 of GS Chapter 163A (Conduct of Primaries and Elections), except as provided by Article 28.
Makes conforming changes to GS 18C-112(e)(1), GS 163A-700(b), GS 163A-743, GS 163A-873, GS 163A-974(a), GS 163A-975, GS 163A-979(a), GS 163A-980(b), GS 163A-984(c), and GS 163A-114.
Amends GS 163A-1005 to exempt elections under new Article 28 of GS Chapter 163A from the provisions for unaffiliated candidates nominated by petition. Amends GS 163A-1006 to exempt nonpartisan elections, except for elections under new Article 28 of GS Chapter 163A, from the statute's provisions concerning declaration of intent and petitions for write-in candidates in partisan elections.
Effective January 1, 2020, and applies to elections held on or after that date.
Amends GS 163A-308, extending the amount of time that a former legislator must wait before registering as a lobbyist to two years. Previously the waiting period was either the close of session or six months after leaving office, whichever was later. Extends the amount of time a public servant or former public servant must wait before registering as a lobbyist to two years after leaving office or end of employment (was, six months). Extends the amount of time an employee of any State agency must wait before registering to lobby the State agency that previously employed them to two years (was, six months).
Effective October 1, 2018.
Amends GS 163A-864, requiring the State Board of Elections to make voter registration application forms available for completion and submission on a secure website.
Amends GS Chapter 163A, Article 17, enacting new GS 163A-864.1, titled “Online voter registration.” Allows an individual to register to vote or change their voter registration online so long as that individual is eligible to vote, and possesses a current and valid North Carolina driver's license, learner’s permit, provisional license, or special identification card for nonoperators. Directs the State Board to establish a secure Internet website to allow registered voters with valid identification described above to complete and submit online: voter registration applications, changes in name, address, or party affiliation, information to establish eligibility to vote, and the individual’s email address. Requires the county board of elections, in conjunction with the State Board, upon receipt of one of the above online applications, to verify the driver's license or Social Security number of the applicant, update the statewide registration database and search for possible duplicate registrations, and verify the person’s address. Requires the Division of Motor Vehicles to transfer the digital signature of the applicant to the State Board upon verification of the applicant’s identification.
Amends GS 163A-871(a) to provide for electronic data associated with online voter registration under GS 163A-864.1 to be included in the official voter registration system and treated as confidential. Makes other clarifying changes.
Effective December 1, 2018.
Amends GS 163A-883, requiring the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to implement a system of automatic voter registration for any eligible person who applies for issuance, renewal, or correction of a driver's license or special identification card. If the person is already registered to vote, they will be able to update their voter’s registration for change of address. The automatic voter registration system must be implemented by January 1, 2019. The DMV is to consult with the State Board in developing this system. Requires the DMV employee taking the driver's license or special identification card application to affirmatively ask the applicant if they are registered to vote, and, if not, whether they would like to register. If they would like to register, the employee must take down all information necessary to register the person to vote, including their party affiliation, if any. Requires the applicant to provide an electronic signature at the time of registration. This subsection does not require the Department of Transportation to determine applicants’ eligibility for registration and voting. The State Board must keep the information acquired pursuant to this section confidential. Amends GS 163A-862 and 163A-865 to allow for automatic voter registration as an acceptable form of voter application. Effective January 1, 2019.
Amends GS 163A-884, removing public assistance offices from the list of State agencies which must also be voter registration agencies. Requires the remaining voter registration agencies to provide for automatic voter registration whenever an applicant applies for service or assistance, or recertification, renewal, or change of address relating to a service. Requires automatic voter registration to be implemented at these agencies by January 1, 2020, in consultation with the State Board. The procedure for an employee taking an automatic voter registration application at one of these agencies will be the same as detailed above for DMV employees under GS 163A-883 and 163A-863. Removes the prior provisions for collection of voter information at these agencies. Creates exception for a voter registration agency providing in-home services for the disabled, exempting these agencies from being required to provide automatic voter registration in the person’s home. This subsection does not require voter registration agencies to determine applicants’ eligibility for registration and voting. The State Board must keep the information acquired pursuant to this section confidential. Effective January 1, 2020.
Amends GS 115D-5, adding new subsection (z), and GS 116-11, adding new subsection (15), requiring the State Board of Community Colleges and the UNC Board of Governors to provide the option for automatic voter registration to each person who is enrolled or registering for courses as a student in a State community college or University of North Carolina college or university. The procedure for an employee taking an automatic voter registration application at one of these colleges will be the same as detailed above for DMV employees under GS 163A-883 and 163A-863. Effective January 1, 2020.
Amends GS 163A-885, requiring that when a person is restored to citizenship and informed of their right to vote, they must also be informed of automatic voter registration. Effective January 1, 2019. Further amends the statute to include automatic registration with the community colleges or UNC System effective January 1, 2020.
Directs the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to establish and implement an education and outreach campaign to inform voters of the automatic voter registration procedures established in this act. Effective when the act becomes law.
Adds new Part 4, Fair Elections Program, to Article 23 of GS Chapter 163A.
Establishes the Fair Elections Fund (Fund) as a separate, nonreverting account in the General Fund, administered by the State Treasurer. Requires investment earnings credited to the assets of the Fund to become part of the assets of the Fund.
Establishes the Fair Elections Program (Program) under which the candidate campaign committee of a candidate for nomination or election to office in this state may receive a grant from the Fund for the candidate's primary campaign or general election campaign. The Part defines primary campaign as the period beginning on the day following the close of the filing period under GS 163A-974 and ending on the day of a primary held for the purpose of nominating a candidate for such office. General election campaign is defined as, in the case of a candidate nominated at a primary, the period beginning on the day following the primary and ending on the date the treasurer files the final statement for the campaign or, in the case of a candidate nominated without a primary, the period beginning on the day following the day on which the candidate is nominated and ending on the date the treasurer files the final statement for the campaign.
Provides that a candidate campaign committee is eligible to receive grants for a primary campaign and a general election campaign if each of the five specified conditions are met, including that the candidate agrees to limit the campaign expenditures of the candidate’s candidate campaign committee in accordance with new GS 163A-1510.3(c). Under (c), a candidate in the Program is required to limit the expenditures of the candidate’s candidate campaign committee before a primary campaign and a general election campaign to the amount of qualifying contributions allowed under Part 4 and any personal funds provided by the candidate. For a primary, campaign expenditures are limited to the sum of (1) the amount of qualifying contributions and personal funds that have not been spent before the primary campaign and (2) the amount of the grant for the primary campaign. For a general election campaign, limits expenditures to the sum of (1) the amount of qualifying contributions and personal funds that have not been spent before the general election campaign, (2) any unexpended funds from any grant for a primary campaign, and (3) the amount of the grant for the general election campaign.
Requires each candidate for nomination or election to State executive office or State legislative office in the state to file an affidavit with the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (State Board) certifying in writing whether or not the candidate intends to abide by the expenditure limits. If the candidate intends to abide by the limits, the affidavit must also include additional specified written certifications concerning funding from the Fund. Sets out further requirements for filing the affidavit. Provides that a candidate who does not intend to participate in the Program and certifies as such is not required to file the affidavit. Candidates who do not file the affidavit as well as those who certify their intent not to abide by the limits are referred to as nonparticipating candidates and those who certify the candidate’s intent to abide by the expenditure limits are referred to as participating candidates. Requires the State Board to prepare a list of participating and nonparticipating candidates, which is to be available for public inspection.
Provides a procedure under which a participating candidate may withdraw from the Program.
Sets out the amount of qualifying contributions the candidate campaign committee of a candidate is required to receive in order to be eligible for grants from the Fund with the required amount set according to the office being sought. Sets out the following additional requirements applicable to candidates making qualifying contributions: (1) the candidate campaign committee must return the portion of any contribution from any individual, including the candidate, that exceeds $100 and any excess portion is not considered in calculating the aggregate contribution amounts; (2) regarding contributions from individuals residing in municipalities in the candidate's district (for candidates for State Senator or Representative), no contribution will be counted unless the contribution is at least $5; (3) all contributions received by an exploratory committee established by the candidate that meet the criteria for qualifying contributions to candidate campaign committees must be considered in calculating the aggregate amounts.
Requires each individual contributing more than $50 to a candidate campaign committee established to aid or promote the success of a participating candidate for nomination or election to also include a certification containing the same information required by GS 163A-1422(a)(1). Sets out three types of contributions that are not deemed to be qualifying contributions that must be returned to the contributor or transmitted to the State Board to be deposited in the Fund. Requires that any additional contributions received after a candidate campaign committee receives the applicable aggregate amount of qualifying contributions to be transmitted to the State Treasurer to be deposited in the Fund.
Sets the grant amounts from the Fund as follows: (1) for candidates for Governor, $1.25 million for a primary and $10 million for a general election; (2) for candidates for State executive office other than Governor, $375,000 for a primary and $1 million for a general election; (3) for candidates for State Senator, $35,000 for a primary and $85,000 for a general election; (4) for candidate for State Representative, $14,000 for a primary and $34,000 for a general election. Sets out additional provisions governing the grant amount in the case of special elections, failure to expend the entire grant for the primary campaign, and lack of opponent in the general election. Sets out amounts of grant funds available to third-party candidate and petitioning candidates.
Sets out the process for applying for a grant from the Fund.
Prohibits depositing any contribution, loan, or the candidate's own moneys or any other moneys received by the candidate or the treasurer on behalf of the candidate campaign committee into the depository account after the initial deposit of moneys from the Fund into the qualified candidate campaign committee’s depository account.
Provides that a qualified candidate campaign committee that received moneys from the Fund for a primary campaign and whose candidate is the party nominee will receive a grant for a general election campaign; sets out the process and timing of that payment.
Allows the candidate campaign committee for a candidate intending to participate in the Program to borrow moneys on behalf of a campaign for a primary or a general election in an aggregate amount not to exceed $1,000. Prohibits an individual or political committee, except the candidate or, in a general election, the State executive committee of a political party, from endorsing or guaranteeing a loan in an aggregate amount in excess of $500. Requires all loans to be repaid in full before the date the candidate campaign committee applies for a grant; a candidate who fails to repay any loans or to certify the repayment of any loans to the State Board will not receive grants from the Fund. Allows candidates intending to participate in the Program to provide personal funds for the candidate's campaign for nomination or election, not to exceed the following: (1) for a candidate for Governor, $20,000; (2) for a candidate for State executive office other than the Governor, $10,000; (3) for a candidate for State Senator, $2,000; and (4) for a candidate for State Representative, $1,000.
Sets out penalties and repayment when an expenditure is made or incurred in excess of applicable expenditure limits by a qualified candidate campaign committee that received a grant.
Sets out procedures for filing required weekly supplemental campaign finance statements, and filing a declaration of excess expenditures when a participating candidate campaign committee makes expenditures or incurs an obligation to make expenditures that exceeds 100% of the applicable expenditure limits. Sets out penalties for failure to file the required statement or declaration.
Requires the State Board to give each participating candidate a copy of the voter registration list for the state or applicable district.
Prohibits a local committee, legislative caucus committee, or legislative leadership committee from making an organization expenditure for the benefit of a participating candidate or the candidate campaign committee of a participating candidate for the office of State Senator in an amount exceeding $10,000 for a general election campaign or for the office of State Representative in an amount exceeding $3,500 for a general election campaign; prohibits making an organization expenditure for State legislative office for a primary campaign.
Requires the State Board to compile and analyze the five categories of information and report its analysis biennially, along with any recommendations for adjustments to the grant amounts, to the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee.
Allows any person, business entity, organization, or political committee to contribute to the Fund.
Effective December 1, 2019, and applies to election grants sought on or after that date.
Amends GS 143-318.14A to specify that reasonable public notice (might intend to require adequate public notice, as defined below) of all commission, committee, and standing subcommittee meetings must be given to all General Assembly members; members of the commission, committee, or subcommittee; and to the Legislative Services Office (was, only that reasonable public notice must be given without specifying the recipient of the notice). Requires that the notice be posted on General Assembly’s website by the Legislative Services Office. Defines adequate public notice as written or electronic notice that is posted and mailed or e-mailed to those who requested notice at least 48 hours before the time of the meeting. Requires that the notice include the time, date, location, and to the extent known, the agenda of the meeting. Requires that the agenda for a noticed meeting be readily available for public inspection no less than 24 hours in advance of the time of the meeting and prohibits changing the agenda except for items of an emergency nature, after the notice has been made available to the public. Requires that commission, committee, or standing subcommittee members receive the text of all bills, proposed committee substitutes, and amendments that will be considered during the scheduled meeting no later than 24 hours in advance of the meeting. Prohibits considering or acting on a bill, proposed committee substitute, or amendment that has not been made available to the members as required. Effective October 1, 2018.
Requires the Legislative Services Office to develop a plan to install equipment providing live video and audio in both chamber and all committee rooms. The plan must be submitted to the chairs of the Legislative Services Commission and the chairs of the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on General Government by September 1, 2018.
Except as otherwise provided, act is effective when it becomes law.
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