Chuck Haga, Forum Communications Co., Published March 13 2012
Jaeger places Sioux nickname, logo referendum on June 12 ballotGRAND FORKS – North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger certified Tuesday that there are enough signatures to put the UND Fighting Sioux nickname referendum on the ballot in June.
Tuesday was the final day of the 35-day period allowed his office to review petitions seeking the referendum and validate signatures on them.
Petition circulators, led by the pro-nickname Committee for Understanding and Respect of the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, submitted petitions bearing 16,824 signatures.
Jaeger’s office determined that 14,901 were qualified. Based on the last federal census, the committee needed to collect 13,452.
“Therefore, the referendum will appear on the June 12, 2012, ballot,” Jaeger said.
That could change depending on the outcome of a hearing scheduled before the state Supreme Court in Bismarck on Thursday.
The State Board of Higher Education, which seeks to drop UND’s Fighting Sioux nickname and logo, has asked the court to declare unconstitutional a 2011 law requiring UND to keep the name.
The board also asks the court to order the nickname law referendum off the June primary election ballot.
The law was repealed in November, but the nickname supporters’ filing of petitions to “repeal the repeal” through a referendum had the effect of reinstating the requirement.
The Legislature and the Committee for Understanding and Respect have joined in the case before the Supreme Court to dispute the board’s contention that the law is an unconstitutional intrusion into the board’s authority.
Each party has retained lawyers and submitted a written brief supporting its position and prepared oral arguments for Thursday’s hearing.
In a statement released by his office Tuesday, Jaeger said that 1,923 signatures on the referral petitions were rejected for various reasons, including inadequate signatures, out-of-state addresses and problems with the petition form. More than 600 signatures were disqualified because the petition circulator did not provide a complete address.
Seven people signed more than once, according to Jaeger’s statement.
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Haga writes for the Grand Forks Herald