UND Says Third Nickname Vote May Be Needed After Their Attorney Argues Votes Are Meaningless

I’m beginning to think that it would be a stretch to say that University of North Dakota President Robert Kelley and his administration is qualified to run a corner lemonade stand, let alone the state’s second largest institute of higher education.

At a recent court hearing over a lawsuit filed by alumni to stop the school’s vote on a new nickname a lawyer representing UND told the judge that the nickname voting which has been the subject of much media attention is just a guideline. “For lack of a better term, this is simply just a feeling-out process for the university to see support for potential names,” Nils Eberhardt said in court, according to the Grand Forks Herald.

As of October 7th the cost of the nickname transition process leading up to these votes has been over $$271,000, according to UND spokesman Peter Johnson. That’s a lot of money to spend on a “feeling-out process.”

Of course, UND walked back Eberhardt’s comments, but also announced that the second vote on potential nicknames, announced after the first vote failed to produce a nickname option with a majority, likely wouldn’t settle the issue. UND is now saying a third vote is possible.

Because what we all wanted was for this thing to drag out longer, right?

The school announced today if none of the three options up for next week’s runoff vote receive more than 50 percent of the votes, a third round of voting will be held shortly after.

UND spokesman Peter Johnson said other voting styles were considered, including a ranking option, but President Robert Kelley ultimately picked the runoff vote because it ensured a clear-cut favorite.

“The overriding driver is having 50 percent or more support for a name,” he said.

I get it. They want to build consensus behind the new nickname. They don’t want a name sneaking in on a plurality. They want to be able to point to majority support.

But just 27 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots in the first round of voting. I doubt participation is going to go up with these successive votes, meaning that this nickname is going to be the result of voting by just roughly a quarter of the people UND identified as stakeholders on the issue.

What a mess.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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