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City staff says petition to recall Bismarck mayor short

Paul Maloney, right, stands in front of the William Guy Federal Building with his uncle as they try to gather signatures in March or a recall of the Bismarck mayor. Mike McCleary / Bismarck Tribune
BISMARCK -- A woman outside the City/County Building held a sign reading, "There is more to Bismarck than downtown," Thursday as city staff announced petitioners attempting to recall Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary were deemed to be 160 signatures short.

The petitioners needed 1,898 valid signatures for the recall election to take place. City Administrator Keith Hunke said, of the 2,405 signatures submitted, 305 signatures were disqualified for being from signers outside city limits, 198 signatures were invalid because they were collected by an unqualified circulator, 29 were duplications or ineligible voters and 136 were deemed illegible or incomplete.

Hunke said, if petitioners wish to appeal his office's findings, they can file a challenge in district court.

Paul Maloney, one of the petition circulators, said he's disappointed but not surprised by the number of signatures declared invalid.

"Unfortunately, this is proof of the reason why we want to recall," said Maloney, who says organizers do have some questions and have been in contact with lawyers. "The circulator should not be what invalidates. How would you feel if you signed a petition and your signature was thrown out on a technicality?"