Krebs Provides Details on Certifying and Challenging Initiative Petitions

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs explains to Rep. Al Novstrup and other Aberdonians how she gets things done in her office. Aberdeen, South Dakota, 2015.11.12.
Krebs: We can fit all the petitions in a basket this big!
Novstrup: How much will that basket cost?

Secretary of State Shantel Krebs took a moment during her visit to Aberdeen yesterday to explain to me how the certification and challenge process for the eight ballot initiatives submitted this month will work.

First and foremost, be patient. This certification process will take a lot longer than the referendum certification process earlier this year. Back in June, when I brought Secretary Krebs the petitions to refer Senate Bills 69 and 177, she had two days before those laws would have taken effect. Summer in a non-election year is a little quieter in the Capitol, so Secretary Krebs could afford to have all hands on deck, even the ladies from business services, working non-stop on those two petitions. With that people-power and focus, Team Krebs was able to turn the SB 69/Referred Law 19 petition around by the end of the day submitted and the SB 177/Referred Law 20 petition around by the end of the next day.

In June, Secretary Krebs had two petitions with a total of about 37,000 signatures to process. Now she has eight petitions with more than 275,000 signatures to process. Plus, her staff have other projects, like training local auditors for next year’s election and getting ready for the 2016 Legislative Session that can’t be set aside. Secretary Krebs cannot allocate the same staff or daily work hours to these petitions. She said her team had just yesterday finished numbering the sheets for the first submission, Jason Glodt’s crime victims bill of rights. Available staff plan to start with two or three hours a day checking sheets and signatures and see how far that gets them. Secretary Krebs can’t calculate yet a finish date, but she hopes she can clear the decks before Session and before nominating petitions for candidates start coming in after January 1.

(Reminder: I made Secretary Krebs’s job a little easier by referring Senate Bill 69, which would have forced candidates to start circulating nominating petitions on December 1. Now she keeps a good eight weeks between initiative and nominating petition seasons. You’re welcome.)

Secretary Krebs will process each petition one at a time. While Team Krebs works on Glodt’s petition, no one touches the other seven. Those petitions stay locked in a room… which we can only hope is more secure than wherever Jason Gant stashed the state flag. Anyone wanting to review an initiative petition for possible challenge must wait until the Secretary certifies that specific petition.

Now the only petition with a signature count that seems close enough to make a challenge viable is the medical marijuana petition, with only 16,631 signatures and a 16.5% allowable error rate. But suppose someone wanted to go after a couple of the other petitions, say Glodt’s law and Lisa Furlong’s fake 18% rate cap. Those two petitions were frequently carried by the same shady circulators, with Glodt’s law as bait (hey, want to help domestic abuse victims?) and the fake rate cap as sneaky undercard (here, sign this, too). It would be really useful to look at Glodt’s and Furlong’s petitions side by side for matching names and dates. Find a bogus name on one, and it’s likely on the other.

But that side-by-side comparison may not be possible, at least not within the 30-day deadline for submitting challenges to the Secretary of State. Suppose Team Krebs certifies Glodt’s law on November 16. They have two more petitions to plow through before they get to Furlong’s petition, and when they get tto Furlong’s, they have even more signatures to check. Team Krebs may not certify Furlong’s petition until December 9. People wanting to cross-check the Glodt petition with the Furlong petition would only have one week before having to submit a challenge on Glodt’s petition. The Glodt challenge deadline may be days past by the time all eight petitions are certified.

That timeframe makes it likely that any challenge involving cross-checking of petitions would have to forgo involving the Secretary of State and go straight to circuit court, where the challenge deadline for all ballot measures is effectively the day that the Secretary must print ballots next year in early September.

Signature hawks, keep an eye on the Secretary’s Twitter feed for updates on the petition review process. It should be an interesting holiday season.

21 Responses to Krebs Provides Details on Certifying and Challenging Initiative Petitions

  1. Bill Fleming

    That strikes me as one of the few potential downsides of having so many issues on the ballot, Cory. The possibility of system overload resulting in a loss of quality control. Around here we recognize one of those little known law of the universe that goes: “Quality. Price. Speed. Pick any two.” I’m guessing perhaps applies in Krebs’s office as well?

  2. The last statewide elected official in Pierre who cleaned up the corruption and mess left by a predecessor was Dick Butler. Our legislature and then-Senate Leader Mike Rounds responded by passing the gag law. The voting public did nothing about it except to elect Republicans who’ve made an even bigger mess.

    While applauding Shantel Krebs, nobody should forget her husband’s role in the Mike Rounds U.S. Senate campaign as propagandist in chief, stomping down on all that pesky evidence of racketeering in the Rounds Administration. Mitch Krebs was also Mike Rounds’ press secretary while all of this corruption was spreading in the regents system.

  3. That is interesting 96, It seems we are being buffaloed into thinking that this is just more of the same ol smoke and mirrors. Must be something real big coming on the horizon, look out.

  4. I don’t want to throw cold water on what has been a stellar performance of cleaning up after Jabba Gant. My guess is that as a legislator, she was in the pack that shut down Rep. Kathy Tyler’s attempts to get an audit of the EB-5 mess. For now, let’s give her props for being the cleanup woman where she knows she benefits politically from the comparison.

    Philosophically, she is not an advocate for transparency and integrity in governance.

  5. After hearing her reports about all of the things that were left undone by Gnat and staff, Krebs really only did what was expected. Get the SOS up and running correctly. I think we are reading to much into this by thinking otherwise. She was elected and is being well paid to do a job, lets let it go at that and move on. She still is a part of the problems that come with the territory in Pierre. She is not going to change those issues one bit without making her sweetie look like the chump he is. Can’t have that now, can we?

  6. Given her performance so far in running that office well and cleaning up the mess I could see her running for Kristi Noem’s seat in a few years. She would be a good candidate.

  7. larry kurtz

    Anyone believing Shantel Krebs has any integrity whatsoever is delusional.

  8. I’m curious if one of those ballot initiative petitions will be challenged. It’s awfully close for errors and given similar past attempts they had a very high error rate. Wait and see.

  9. larry kurtz

    I’m curious whether the Yellowstone supervolcano will cover South Dakota in ten feet of ash.

  10. Cory, What is the deadline if someone wanted to challenge a petition? Is the Yellowstone Supervolcano part of this thread?

  11. mike from iowa

    If Krebs is looking to run for governor,cleaning up the SOS office w/o ruffling wingnut feathers would look good on her resume. I just don’t think she needs to try hard to impress voters with that magic R behind her name.

  12. What about Democrats for office, this love fest for Krebs is hard to stomach.

  13. There are no Democrats there. The candidate who ran for SoS now resides in California.

  14. mike from iowa

    Here is what your state can aspire to-

    The CBC-Corrupt Bastards Club of Alaska.

  15. larry kurtz

    Lynn’s stopped clock has all three hands in her six.

  16. In Illinois, they mimic South Dakota on fake petitions, this one is good.

  17. Fleming, system overload? Then we need a bigger system… or a better system. Hire more staff to work with Secretary Krebs in the election office. Implement an electronic petition system that allows us to take signature online and automatically validates every signature in the voter registration database. If we could have taken signatures on iPads, every petition would be validated by now.

  18. Lynn, the petition challenge window for ballot measures is 30 days after the Secretary’s certification. Since Krebs is certifying the petitions sequentially, each petition will have a different challenge deadline. Since the medical marijuana petition was submitted last, it will be the last petition opened for challenge and will have the latest challenge deadline.

    But remember, as I note above, that 30-day window applies only to challenges filed with the Secretary of State, basically recounts where challengers say, “We checked the voter registration rolls, and that petition only has 12,000 signatures, not the 14,000 that the SOS certified with the 5% sample.” There is no statutory deadline for court challenges, which may be filed on signature counts and numerous other bases. One need only go to court before the practical deadline for printing ballots next September.

  19. Jerry, it’s not a love fest. I’m simply explaining here the steps she’s taking to certify petitions. Secretary Krebs is making the trains run on time. She’s still plugged into the Republican machine, as 96 duly reminds us.

    She ran for SOS in part because Democrats could have taken that office away from Gant, and as she declared in 2013, her candidacy was about making sure the SDGOP held all statewide offices. Her performance in office thus far makes clear she will be a more formidable candidate in 2018 than Gant would have been in 2014. If we could call an election today, a Democrat could run against Krebs and charge her with all sorts of political hackery prior to taking office, but that Democrat could not run on charges that Krebs has failed to do her job in the Secretary of State’s office. That’s not love; that’s objective job-performance assessment.

  20. I read on this post those that already speak of a place for her as governor, or as someone to run against NOem as if Hawks has suddenly vaporized. To me, a public elected servant should be just that of someone who has the capacity for the job and does what she or he is paid well to do. I fail to see why that should be such an anomaly for government. We all need to understand that government is us and those that we entrust to do our job, should be expected to perform it without much praise. The desert we have been looking at in South Dakota politics is shameful that we fall all over ourselves for someone doing a job that we pay them to do. I do not embrace my plumber for the job he has done, I expect it because I have paid him to do that job.