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Published May 20, 2013, 07:14 PM

Spirit Lake petition petition numbers reevaluated

Petitioners trying to remove Spirit Lake tribal chairman Roger Yankton say they don't need as many signatures to validate their petition as originally thought. They're planning to take their case to the Spirit Lake election board when they turn the petition in.

By: Adam Ladwig, WDAZ

Petitioners trying to remove Spirit Lake tribal chairman Roger Yankton say they don't need as many signatures to validate their petition as originally thought. They're planning to take their case to the Spirit Lake election board when they turn the petition in.

A tribal court ruling states a petition must be signed by 20 percent of eligible voters to be valid. Petitioners say determining that number could help decide whether the petition succeeds or fails.

Erich Longie, petitioner: "...Found out it's the current vice-chair, Duane Jackson, who came up with the number 540 based on his interpretation of the census."

Petitioners studied the 2010 census for themselves and came up with a different number of signatures needed.

Cheryl Good Iron: "The number dropped down to 498. That's not a whole lot."

The difference could help decide if the petition succeeds or fails, especially since new signatures are getting harder to come by.

Erich: "We're still out there. Every once in a while we get a bunch, but it has really slowed down."

They don't know exactly how many signatures they have.

Cheryl: "I'm confident that we do have enough."

And there's a risk that some names will be thrown out.

Cheryl: "We wanted to go over, at this point, maybe 60 people so that if they do take names, start taking names off that we'll still have enough."

If they only need 498 signatures, petitioners say they could turn it in today.

Erich: "We will have way more than enough numbers to turn it in."

But they won't know which quota they have to meet until they turn present their case to the election board...at the same time they present their petition. Petitioners are waiting at least another week to turn in the petition, partly to collect more signatures and partly to wait until the winners of the recent election get sworn in to the council.

Rob Hudson: "It seems like it would be easy to do the math to find out how many signatures the petition needs. Why do they think there's a discrepancy with the numbers?"

Adam Ladwig: "Petitioners say it's indicative of why they started the petition in the first place. They say the council likes to make up their own rules."

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