BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - People in favor of the City of St. George turned a petition with 18,353 signatures into the Registrar of Voters' Office last October in hopes of create the new city in East Baton Rouge Parish.
The Registrar of Voters completed the verifying of the signatures and reports they are short 2,694 signatures, but they have another 60 days to get them.
For the past three months, Elaine Lamb says her office has been checking each of those signatures against the voter rolls. The majority of the signatures that were rejected was because either they were not registered to vote or did not live in the affected area.
The St. George, Louisiana Facebook Page posted this moments after they got word from the registrar's office:
"They determined that we need 17,859 signatures on the petition and that 15,165 signatures were valid. Meaning we have 60 days to collect 2,694 signatures. We have collected approximately 1,500 signatures since we turned in the petition. We need to collect 1,194 signatures over the next 60 days!"
Lionel Rainey III, the spokesman for the incorporation effort, says they have requested a list of which signatures counted and which names were tossed. They will then use a mobile app to check to see if the people requesting to sign the petition now have actually signed before or not.
Rainey says they did anticipate some of the signatures would not count. He says that's one reason they kept collecting signatures, even after turning in the more than 18,000 names. With the 1,500 he says they have in hand right now, they are left with around 1,200 to collect.
"All we want is for it to be on the ballot, to give people the opportunity to vote up or down on this," Rainey said.
East Baton Rouge Parish Metro councilman John Delgado has been one of the more outspoken voices against the incorporation. Delgado believes the measure would not pass on the ballot.
"You can see in the amount of time they've had to gather signatures that there's just not that much support for it," he said. "Quite honestly, the best thing for everyone to do - put down pens, stop trying this effort which is ultimately going to fail and go back to working together to fix the problems in our East Baton Rouge Parish education system."
Delgado says those who support and started incorporation have been running away from the problem that started all this: education.
He believes a start to the fix is possible with the school board looking to hire Warren Drake, the former superintendent of Zachary Community Schools.
If St. George supporters collect the needed signatures, they would likely be on the gubernatorial ballot this fall. If they do not reach what's needed, they would have to wait two years before restarting their efforts to incorporate.
Only those who live within the boundaries of the proposed City of St. George would be allowed to vote.