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After gathering what they thought were 4,000 more signatures than needed, supporters learned Monday there may not be enough valid ones on an income tax petition intended to benefit local schools.

With only hours to go before her 5 p.m. Monday deadline, Oklahoma City Clerk Frances Kersey issued a preliminary report cautioning that there may not be enough “legally sufficient” signatures to move a petition forward to a vote of the people early in 2018.

Unloading petitions at city clerk's office
Councilman Ed Shadid and Rev. Lori Walke start unloading petitions for the OKC city clerk. (file, Nov. 9)

A news release from Kristy Yager, public information officer for Oklahoma City, said that Kersey’s preliminary determination was that there were only 9090 legally sufficient signatures with 11,991 needed.

Ward 2 Councilman Ed Shadid leads Save OKC Schools, the organization that circulated the petition.

He was one of the leaders who turned in 16,000 petitions Nov. 9.

At the time, he thought there were plenty of signatures to compensate for inevitable errors that occur in a petition drive.

When Free Press contacted Shadid late Monday, he said he “didn’t know anything yet” about the details of the situation and planned to look into the matter early Tuesday morning.

Next steps

The next steps for Kersey’s office is to start a review process before she issues a final report by the deadline Thursday.

“City staff is working to double-check the petition signature pages for accuracy, and to create a spreadsheet to log the determination for each signature page,” Yager wrote.

“For signatures not deemed legally sufficient, the log and notations on the signature pages will list the specific reason or reasons why.”

Extras

Kersey reported the group turned in 16,998 signatures. Only 11,991 legally sufficient signatures were needed to send it to a vote of the people early in 2018.

But the city clerk’s initial review of signature pages yielded only 9,090 signatures that met the test of being legally sufficient.

When leaders turned in the petition Nov. 9, they seemed confident the petition would have enough signatures to go to a vote.

Shadid called the process for getting the signatures “easy” because people in Oklahoma City saw the need for more money for cash-starved public schools in the metro.

Protest filed

Yager’s new release also reported protests of the petition that had been filed just under the 10-day deadline Monday.

The Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, Jonathan Small, Trent England and Dave Bond filed a protest independently of Kersey’s preliminary count report.

Small, England and Bond are officers of the OCPA, a politically right-leaning think tank that has a long history of opposition to public schools.

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