That Sioux Falls paper caught up with me Friday on the effort to place Jay Pond, Chastity Jewett, and Costas Hercules on the South Dakota ballot as electors for Green Party candidate Jill Stein. According to Dana Ferguson’s last Friday report, four days before the Tuesday 5 p.m. submission deadline, Bernie Sanders delegate Dylan Workman was throwing himself into the last-minute petition effort to give South Dakota voters a choice:
“I believe that a democracy to be as effective as possible needs to have as many candidates as possible,” Workman said. “And it’s not like we’re a battleground state, so we can afford another name on the ballot.”
Workman said adding Stein to the ballot could benefit Democrats down the ticket as Stein supporters would likely also back Democrats [Dana Ferguson, “S.D. Sanders Push to Put Stein on Ballot,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2016.07.29].
I agree cautiously with Workman that more choices are good for democracy. That principle can’t be an absolute, though: with about 147 million native-born Americans age 35 and older, it is theoretically possible to have 147 million candidates for President. A general election ballot that long probably wouldn’t make for effective democracy. The optimal number of choices for President, especially without a Constitutional ranked choice voting system, is clearly closer to a handful than a horde.
Workman’s commitment to more choices appears even more conditional. He appears to believe that if South Dakota were a battleground state, we couldn’t afford to have another name on the ballot. That sounds odd: how do we make democracy more effective by placing third-party candidates on the ballot only in states where one of the two major parties already holds such a big advantage that scattering opposition votes among multiple candidates won’t have any effect on the outcome? Offering more choices only where those choices won’t matter doesn’t exactly fire me up to make those feckless choices available.
I also doubt Stein’s coattail potential for downticket Democrats. Stein offers coattails only if she brings to the polls Democratic voters who otherwise would have stayed home. “Democrats” who would stay home just by dint of their disgust for Hillary Clinton can’t be counted on for party loyalty any more than the Bernie boo-birds who bared their disrespect by making noise during the convention speeches of the First Lady, the President, General John Allen, and nominee Clinton herself. They aren’t paying attention to state level issues like K-12 funding, ballot measures, and EB-5 and GEAR UP corruption—those voters are already coming to the polls, regardless of how many choices they have for President. Stein voters seem as likely to split their votes or maybe mark Stein for their protest vote and leave the rest of the ballot blank.
There may not even be enough interest to put Stein on the ballot, let alone tilt the election for lucky downticket progressives. But in case there is, Stein activists, here’s your last-minute reminder of the technical petition rules you need to follow to make sure Team Hillary doesn’t challenge your petition and get it thrown out:
- When you print that PDF petition sheet, make sure you print it on both sides of a single sheet of paper. If you hand the Secretary the candidates’ declaration with signatures one one piece of paper and the circulator’s oath with signatures on a second piece of paper (separate, stapled, taped, doesn’t matter), the Secretary of State will throw them out.
- The person who circulates the petition sheet must sign that sheet in the presence of a notary public and obtain a notary seal on that signature. If anyone who did not eyeball each signature signs that circulator’s oath, that entire sheet is invalid, and the signer could end up like Annette Bosworth, convicted of felony perjury.
- Circulators cannot mail their sheets independently to the Secretary of State. All sheets must be submitted to the Secretary of State in one batch, under the original signed declaration of the electors. That means that either Workman and Pond need to coordinate some sort of statewide pickup or that every circulator needs to meet in Pierre tomorrow afternoon, hand all signed, notarized sheets to whoever is carrying the original signed sheet, put all of those sheets in one box, and carry them to Secretary Krebs before 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time Tuesday.
Stein petitioners, cross those t’s, dot those i’s… because if Team Hillary is even slightly optimistic that they could force the GOP to spend money in South Dakota excusifying for Trump to hold the state, Team Hillary will spend the thousand dollars or so it would take to get a copy of your petition and tear it apart looking for enough mistakes to keep Team Jill off the ballot.