KELO-TV anchor turned investigative reporter Angela Kennecke (this is more fun, right, Angela?) catches up with this blog and finds bunches of hired contractors illegally circulating petitions and disenfranchising South Dakota voters.
Kennecke finds petition circulators claiming to be from California and Switzerland. Then she turns to Secretary of State Shantel Krebs:
“Number one, if you are going to be a circulator for ballot petitions, you must be 18 years of age and you must be a South Dakota Resident,” South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said [Angela Kennecke, “Who’s Really Asking for Your Signature?” KELO-TV, 2015.09.16].
Kennecke notes that any such illegally circulated petitions will be thrown out if citizens challenge those petitions when submitted. I would suggest that Secretary Krebs should grab Attorney General Marty Jackley and start roadtripping to Sioux Falls and Rapid City once or twice a week for some proactive enforcement of petition laws. Flash a badge or two, and these bogus petitioners will run like the Switzerland dude in Kennecke’s report…
…while the legitimate petitioners will happily stand and ensure your signature counts.
Kennecke checks in with paragon of civic virtue Ryan Gaddy (Angela, really? Lucy-George Cooper is on the street, and you talk to Gaddy?) on the real harm these out-of-state contractors may do to South Dakota’s election process:
While we didn’t catch up with him, Gaddy says whether you agree with his cause or not, he’s worried about what these out-of-state contractors are doing to the democratic process.
“I think it’s going to cause a lot of distrust in the petition process in South Dakota. And this is one thing we have as South Dakotans, when our legislature doesn’t want to move on an issue–we as the people can push the issue. And that’s great for democracy,” Gaddy said [Kennecke, 2015.09.16].
Actually, Gaddy says it pretty well. Ballot measures are essential democratic tools for South Dakota voters. A few lawbreaking petitioners make it harder for law-abiding petitioners to help South Dakotans launch ballot measures. Lawbreakers make the public leery of good petitions and good petitioners. And when these bad circulators collect signatures illegally, they disenfranchise those signers who think they are helping win an opportunity to exercise their vote. (Again, AG Jackley, you hate disenfranchisement—get in the car with SOS Krebs and go catch some of these disenfranchisers!)
One quibble with this story: when California dude tells Kennecke he’s circulating “the payday loan petition,” Kennecke does not ask him which payday loan petition. Since he says he’s circulating the Marsy’s Law petition as well, it is likely he meant the fake 18%-rate-cap petition, which as Matt Hildreth helped document yesterday, circulators appear to be using as bait to win signatures for the sleazy, deceptive 18% sham petition.
The petition process can use more scrutiny like this. Reporters, by all means, any time you us petitioners standing on the street or at a weekend event soliciting signatures, you should come up and grill us. Ask us who we are, where we’re from, what our petitions are about, and what good they’ll do for South Dakota. We legitimate South Dakota circulators will be happy to answer every question on the record, make the six-o’clock news with our petition drives, and take your signatures (assuming you are registered South Dakota voters, of course).