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August 29, 2013

Election board prepares for potential grand jury

CLAREMORE — The Rogers County Election Board is gearing up to authorize collected signatures if a pending grand jury petition is approved.

The fate of the petition is in the hands of Grady County District Judge Richard Van Dyck, who is expected to make a decision today.

Six citizens filed the petition Monday, including multiple accusations against several county officials.

If Judge Van Dyck approves the petition, the signature phase of the process will begin.

Petitioners will have 45 days or until Oct. 11 to collect the signatures before presenting the petition to Rogers County Court Clerk Kim Henry.

Henry will record the petition and turn the documents over to the election board for authorization.

Election Board Secretary Julie Dermody says her office will be ready to verify each of the approximately 4,487 signatures needed for the grand jury to proceed. Each signature must be a registered voter of Rogers County and their name, address and signature must match election board records, according to Dermody.

Dermody said her office will use signature cards from each voter’s registration to determine the information is correct.

“We will be very meticulous to make sure it is done the right way,” Dermody said. “This is a serious matter.”

If the address is different, then the signature will be rejected, according to Dermody.

Anyone signing the petition will want to make sure his or her registration is valid, she added.

If a voter has not been active in six years, their registration is dropped.

The individual is no longer registered to vote and therefore if they sign the petition it will not count toward the total required signatures, according to Dermody.

Last year, approximately 2,800 registrations were dropped for inactivity from the system, she said.

There are approximately 51,600 registered voters in Rogers County, according to Dermody.

If a voter signs the petition and does not have an active registration, they can renew or apply for a new registration, according to Dermody.

The only issue would be if their registration were not completed prior to the petition deadline, she added.

Depending on the volume of registrations received, it can take up to five days to complete the process, Dermody said. In order for the grand jury petition to move forward and a jury to be impaneled, the 4,487 signatures must be valid, which means petition supporters will likely look to collect at least 1,000 more than required by law.

The maximum number of verified signatures needed to proceed is 5,000. Petition organizers report anyone interested in signing or participating in the process can contact the group on the Facebook page Rogers County Grand Jury 2013 or by email at rogerscountygrandjury2013@hotmail.com.

The group is planning to meet at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Lynn Riggs Gazebo Park located at North Weenonah Ave. and West Will Rogers Blvd in Claremore.

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