Measure 4 dominates draw at polls
Voting stations were buzzing Tuesday as an expected record number of Grand Forks residents lined up to vote in state and local elections. More than 800 people cast their votes during the election's early voting stage, said Debbie Nelson, the elec...
Voting stations were buzzing Tuesday as an expected record number of Grand Forks residents lined up to vote in state and local elections.
More than 800 people cast their votes during the election's early voting stage, said Debbie Nelson, the election official for Grand Forks County.
"In the last four primary election cycles we've seen 5,000 to 10,000 people come out to vote," she said. "We're expecting to surpass that."
So what's bringing a record number of people to the polls?
Some point to Measure 4 and the fate of the Fighting Sioux nickname for the large turnout.
UND seniors Christen Furlong and Brooke Pearson cast their votes against Measure 4 at the UND Wellness Center.
"The state is giving us an opportunity to let our voices be heard," Furlong said. "I want the nickname to stay."
In Bismarck, Andrea Eagle Pipe, 26, a criminal justice major at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, said she's Sioux and doesn't find the name offensive.
"A lot of people don't like it, but I don't have a problem with it," she told The Associated Press, adding that her high school in Red Lodge, Mont., agreed to shed its 70-year-old Redskins nickname in 2011 because of NCAA pressure. She said she would vote to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname after classes Tuesday.
The issue has even divided families. Buck and GaeLynn Striebel and their son, Robert, stocked up on Fighting Sioux T-shirts on sale at a Bismarck sporting goods store Tuesday.
"They could be collector's items," a chuckling Buck Striebel said.
The North Dakota State University graduate said he would vote to keep the Fighting Sioux nickname, while his wife and son, both UND graduates, said they would vote to get rid of the name because of the controversy surrounding it.
"It's bittersweet and it breaks my heart, but it has to go," GaeLynn Striebel said.
Several other Grand Forks voters also cited Measure 4 as the reason they were at the polls, but not everyone was brought out by the nickname issue.
"The nickname measure wasn't that high of a priority for me," said Sara Lahr, who was also voting at the Wellness Center. Lahr said she was more interested in Measures 2, relating to property taxes, and Measure 3, relating to religious freedom. Her friends Stephanie Bonham, Molly DesRoches and Melissa Sobotta agreed.
"We're kind of sick of hearing about the issue," Sobotta said.
Across town, lines were moving swiftly at the Alerus Center voting station. The addition of driver's license scanner sped up the voting process there and at other polling places.
Even with the fast-moving lines, voters still ran into a few problems.
With the recent redistricting of Grand Forks County, several polling places changed from previous years for some precincts.
A few residents were not aware or not happy with the district changes.
"Whoever did the redistricting weren't thinking of the elderly or handicap when they did it," said one resident as she entered an Alerus Center ballroom to vote.