Keep Casper Smoke Free says it will challenge nearly 100 of the 685 smoking ban referendum signatures that were rejected during an official count in July.

The group requested to review the petitions it submitted to the city again after coming up 61 valid signatures short of its 2,454-signature special election target.

Katrina Lorenzen, a co-chairperson with Keep Casper Smoke Free, says the city used inconsistent rejection criteria, particularly in regard to middle initial use.

“We noticed some names were accepted either with a middle initial or nothing,” Lorenzen said. “You just have to be a registered voter.”

After last month’s official count, city clerk V.H. McDonald said the group collected 2,393 valid signatures, narrowly missing the group’s referendum goal.

“61 is just such a close number,” Lorenzen said. “It was really worth our time to go through and verify.”

“There could be human error, and there could be (reasons) that we just don’t understand why (the signatures) weren’t verified,” Lorenzen said.

Keep Casper Smoke Free is aiming to repeal an amended smoking ban that was put in place by Caper City Council in June. The amended ban permits smoking in Casper-based taverns, lounges, bars, private clubs and healthcare facilities.

The city’s initial public smoking ordinance, which was passed last year by council, disallowed smoking in all of Casper's public places. Keep Casper Smoke Free's sister group, Smokefree Natrona County, lobbied in favor of the previous ban.

Kimberly Holloway, a former city councilor who chairs Keep Casper Smoke Free with Lorenzen, says the group will target the city council seats of two councilors who voted in favor of the amended ban during elections next year if the group falls short of its signature target again.

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