Referendum Update: Circulators May Sign Their Own Petitions

Kea Warne from the Secretary of State’s office sends me an interesting update on petition law. Apparently, circulators can sign their own petitions!

I was of the impression that I could not witness my own signature, somewhat like how I cannot second my own motion. But Ms. Warne says she cannot find any statute forbidding circulators from including their signatures in the twenty lines on their sheets. Just remember: you can only sign once!

I’ll update my petition circulation guide accordingly. Happy circulating!

20 Responses to Referendum Update: Circulators May Sign Their Own Petitions

  1. To be as clear as possible, a circulator may sign in ONE regular signature space on ONE of the sheets he or she circulates. A circulator may NEVER notarize his or her own circulator’s oath at the end of ANY sheet.

  2. Right: you can’t notarize your own work.

  3. I’m not sure I would trust that. It would be a shame to have a bunch of signatures thrown out because a SOS employee made a “bad” interpretation.

    SOS office is part of the Republican machine – not part of the solution, but part of the problem. The negative effects of Pat Powers working there will stink up that office for many years to come.

  4. Bob Newland

    I’ve worked on about 30 petition drives. Circulators have always been able to sign and witness their own signatures on petitions. Several of us circulators were also notaries, and we notarized each others’ petitions, but a notary can’t notarize a petition that that notary circulated. I am no longer able to be a notary because I got popped for having 1.67 oz. cannabis in excess of the amount a notary is allowed to have. Any notary may have 1.999999 oz. or less cannabis and still be considered of high enough moral character to say (s)he watched someone sign a document.

  5. Kurt and Bob are exactly correct and I’m not surprised this is the case as it is common legally as people can wear multiple hats. As employer, I sign a payroll check to myself as employee. Similarly, I can sell a business vehicle to myself as an individual (must follow IRS and state sales tax rules).

    Petition signer is signing as an Individual Voter. Petition circulator is signing as an Agent of the SOS.

    Notaries can’t notarize their own signature because of restrictions placed on a notary by law (one can’t notarize where there is conflict of interest which is inherent when one notarizes their own signature). To add to Kurt’s statement, I suspect that there is nothing in election law that would prevent a notary from notarizing a Petition Circulator’s signature as it is covered in notary law. That said, because the notarization would be in violation of notary law, I suspect as Kurt said, it would result in the signatures being subject to being rejected because the notarization is invalid by notary law.

  6. Interesting information Mr. Newland on the amount in possession to limit ones witnessing. Wonder what the rules are for alcohol consumption?

  7. Ellee Spawn

    I have to wonder if there are different rules for different petitions? Kea also told me that a candidate who turned in a ballot petition to me (who signed his own petition) couldn’t count his own signature…

  8. Bob Newland

    Jerry, actually a notary (or anyone) can carry as much cannabis as (s)he wants; it’s only getting caught that makes problems. Two ounces or more becomes a felony. A felony disqualifies a SoDakian from being a notary. Petition circulators are not subject to a law regarding alcohol consumption while on the job. As a matter of fact, bars at happy hour are great places to get signatures.

  9. Nick Nemec

    Kurt explains in two lines while using clearer and more concise prose what Troy struggles to say in 10 lines.

  10. Mr. Newland, weed is bad for you. Bad! That said, perhaps you and I would make a good petition circulating team. We could circulate around and if the people looked like dopers or corporate narks you could related to them and if the people were old or invalid then I would make them sign. Imagine the fun we’d have at the Rushmore mall.

  11. mike from iowa

    I’d dearly love to know how Republicans define conflict of interest because they appear to have no shame when it comes to furthering their self interests. Must be similar to pornography-you can’t describe it but you know it when a liberal does it.

  12. Nick: Kurt was enumerating the rule. I was explaining the concept and why there is no conflict of interest- One person can wear two hats and perform two different roles without tainting either.

    Mike: Conflict of interest is a legally defined word. In general, no conflict is assumed (ala what Kurt describes) unless enumerated in law (ala the notary law) or usually when one hat has a fiduciary to a third party whose interests are inherently in conflict to the the second hat.

    My point is that there is no inherent conflict between the Individual Voter as signer and Petition Circulator because the purpose is the same (get a candidate or initiative on the ballot) and the law is silent. Thus, the position of the SOS’s office is consistent with common practice.

  13. Bob’s writing letters to Mr. PP now? That gives me shivers.

  14. larry kurtz

    look at the date, grudzilla.

  15. Bob Newland

    I am so appreciative of your offer, Grudzming.

  16. mike from iowa

    Love Bob Ellis comments about having more screwed up people in public. Pot (named wingnuts) meet kettle(named wingnuts). These people are the real threat to society,imho.

  17. O.K., memo to all circulators: do not carry pot or alcohol while circulating. Thank you. :-)

  18. Kea Warne’s advice appears to cohere with the practice of the numerous intelligent observers in this comment section. If by some incredible slip (or devious SDGOP plot!) it’s not (and Troy is encouraging us to believe it—should I be more suspicious?), I have Kea’s e-mail on file.

    But don’t worry! Circulate! Sign! And enjoy this stunning spring night!

  19. Cory,

    I’m not an attorney and I haven’t read the election law for this purpose. My commentary is because it is consistent with the practice in other places where signatures are required. If your paranoia is causing you angst, just operate with an abundance of caution and not sign the petition you circulate. I don’t want to upset your peace of mind and have absolutely no intent to subvert your efforts by deception.