City invalidates petition signatures about red-light cameras

BY NICK HASSETT | APRIL 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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After a local group submitted a petition proposing a restriction on red-light cameras in Iowa City, the city determined many of the signatures were invalid.

The petition contained 3,322 signatures, but City Clerk Marian Karr confirmed only 2,106 to be valid. The petition, from the group Stop Big Brother, requires 2,500 signatures to petition the City Council to ban the cameras at stoplights in Iowa City.

“It’s disappointing but also encouraging,” said Martha Hampel, a cofounder of the group. “[394 required signatures] is not as bad as we thought it would be based on previous referendums. It could’ve been worse.”

Karr said the city validated signatures by comparing the names and addresses of registered voters with the names on the petition. If the information didn’t match, or if the signature was illegible, the signature was invalidated.

The group now has 15 days to collect the rest of the required signatures, which Hampel says puts the deadline on April 30.

“We’re going to work harder and more diligently,” she said. “We have to be positive they are registered at the address they wrote on the petition.”

However, Hampel said she didn’t understand the requirement that petition signers be registered voters rather than simply eligible.

“I’m kind of upset the city requires people to be registered, especially in a state with same day registration,” she said.

Karr said the city charter established the requirement with a specific goal in mind.

“The intent was for registered voters to have the ability [to sign petitions], but not those who do not vote,” she said.

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