Petition drive started to change Columbia to 'strong mayor' gov. - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Petition drive started to change Columbia to 'strong mayor' government

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Less than a month after Columbia City Council members shot down a referendum on whether the city should change its form of government, the issue is taking off again.

Organizers of a petition drive aimed at reviving the referendum say they've already collected around 11,000 signatures in two weeks.

Former State Attorney General Henry McMaster is helping lead the effort.

"People are signing up left and right," McMaster said.

Organizers need to collect and validate names of 15 percent of registered voters or around 11,500 eligible residents.

McMaster and others admit what they have now includes plenty of signatures that won't be found valid, including some coming from people who don't live in Columbia. State law requires the petition drive to be completed within 6 months after the first signer.

Signatures have also been collected online through LetColumbiaVote.com.

Others have been gathered by a coalition of volunteers and professionals from a Lawrenceville, Georgia company called National Ballot Access.

"You have to have some professionals helping and that's why we hired those people," McMaster said.

The deadline to put the referendum on the November ballot was Aug. 27, according to the Richland County Election Office.

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