Voters to Decide on Fighting Sioux NicknameBISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Tuesday ordered a statewide vote on a law that requires the University of North Dakota to keep its Fighting Sioux athletics nickname and an American Indian sports logo.
By: Associated Press,
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Secretary of State Al Jaeger on Tuesday ordered a statewide vote on a law that requires the University of North Dakota to keep its Fighting Sioux athletics nickname and an American Indian sports logo.
Jaeger's decision came two days before the North Dakota Supreme Court will consider arguments that the vote should be stopped because the pro-nickname law allegedly violates the state constitution.
The referendum will be listed as Measure 4 on the June 12 primary election ballot if the vote is allowed to go ahead, Jaeger said.
The Board of Higher Education, which wants to retire the nickname and logo, is suing Jaeger in an attempt to forestall the ballot.
The North Dakota Constitution gives the board expansive powers to manage the state's 11 public colleges, and board members argue the pro-nickname law is itself illegal.
Nickname supporters needed petition signatures from at least 13,452 North Dakota voters to force a vote on the law. They turned in 16,824 names. On Tuesday, Jaeger said 14,901 signatures had been judged valid, or 1,449 more than required.
Most of the disqualified signatures had incomplete, illegible or out-of-state addresses, or the petitions were improperly notarized, Jaeger said. Seven people signed the petition more than once, and one signer was younger than the 18 minimum voting age.
The Supreme Court has been asked to intervene directly in the nickname dispute, without first assigning the lawsuit to a district court for scrutiny. The court is hearing arguments from attorneys at 3 p.m. Thursday.
In court filings, Jaeger contends he has no authority to keep the measure off the ballot if the petitions are sufficient. Nickname backers and the North Dakota Legislature, who have intervened in the lawsuit, argue the pro-nickname law is constitutional and that voters should decide whether it survives.
The Fighting Sioux measure, should it make the ballot, will be listed after three constitutional amendments.
Measure 1 would make it easier for North Dakota lawmakers to accept appointments in state government. Measure 2 would abolish property taxes, and Measure 3 would make it more difficult for state government to regulate religious practices.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.