AUGUSTA — Maine election officials are verifying petitions for a ballot measure requiring criminal background checks for all private gun sales in the state.

The group Maine Moms Demand Action submitted petitions to the Secretary of State’s office on Tuesday. Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn says the group claimed it has more than 72,000 signatures certified by cities and towns.

Flynn’s office has until Feb. 18 to verify the petitions. The group needs 61,123 valid signatures to send the measure to the state ballot in November.

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