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UND announces possibility of third runoff vote for nickname

GRAND FORKS - The University of North Dakota's new athletic nickname will be decided by majority vote, meaning there's a possibility a winner won't be chosen until well into November. The school announced Wednesday if none of the three options up...

GRAND FORKS - The University of North Dakota's new athletic nickname will be decided by majority vote, meaning there's a possibility a winner won't be chosen until well into November.

The school announced Wednesday 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.

The upcoming vote on Fighting Hawks, Roughriders and Nodaks will take place online from noon Monday to 11:59 p.m. Nov. 6. Results will be announced within a few days of the vote closing.

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UND Vice President for University and Public Affairs Susan Walton said Sunday the runoff vote would decide the winner and support from at least 50 percent of the voters wouldn't be needed, but Johnson said Wednesday he thought the university had always been clear about wanting the winning name to win by majority.

"We thought we'd take a little bit of time to sort that out and decide what the best approach is," he said. "We think this is the best approach - that if there is a need, there will be a third runoff."

Despite an attorney representing the university saying the contrary in court proceedings, UND announced in a news release "the winning name will be the new nickname."

The controversial Fighting Sioux name was retired in December 2012 and UND has been moving toward the selection of a new name for more than a year. Two committees worked to develop the process and gathered names from the public before narrowing them down for the public vote.

North Stars and Sundogs were eliminated in the first round of voting. While the school initially announced the runoff vote would be between two names, Nodaks was added as a third option because Kelley decided it was appropriate, given the less-than 1 percent margin of votes between it and the second-place name, Roughriders.

The first vote saw 23 percent of the possible 82,000 eligible stakeholders cast their vote, the most feedback UND has ever seen in an institution-wide online poll. Johnson said even with the process potentially taking longer, he isn't worried about voter turnout.

"There have been a few changes made along the way, that is true, but ultimately, I think the individuals who have voted, voted because they want to help pick that next nickname, so I think they'll continue to help see that process through," he said.

The upcoming runoff vote and a potential third round will be open to the same stakeholders: UND students, alumni, employees, retirees, donors who have given any amount at any time and season ticketholders. Voters will receive an email with a link to vote beginning early Nov. 2 and are encouraged to check their spam and junk folders if they fail to receive it.

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A help line for voters can be called at (701) 777-2731.

Related Topics: UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA
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