Merry Christmas, believers in democracy! Secretary of State Shantel Krebs this morning certified the redistricting petition! This summer and fall, Farmers Union collected signatures to submit to South Dakota’s voters a constitutional amendment to create an independent commission to draw South Dakota’s legislative boundaries. The intent is to draw fair boundaries strictly according to population and existing boundaries and to forbid the personal and political considerations that lead our self-interested legislators to draw the gerrymandered boundaries we see in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Aberdeen, and elsewhere. That anti-gerrymandering proposal will now appear on the 2016 general election ballot as Amendment T.
Using the 5% sample method required by statute, Secretary Krebs calculates that the redistricting petition has 30,335 valid signatures out of 43,198 calculated submitted. That’s a 29.78% error rate, notably better than the 35.87% error rate on the Glodt amendment petition, though still worse than the 24.75% error rate reported for South Dakota ballot question petitions from 2008 to 2014.
Farmers Union hired some of the same out-of-state circulators as Glodt and the fake 18% petitioners. Farmers Union also hired me and some other responsible South Dakota circulators to augment its volunteer efforts. I’ll assert, on the basis of my experience with genuine South Dakota circulators on the referendum petitions last spring, that we South Dakota circulators produced a better validity rate with our patient, honest circulation tactics than the out-of-state mercenaries.
By Secretary Krebs’s calculation, the Amendment T petition has a 9.35% cushion. Citizens interested in challenging the redistricting petition now have until January 25* to review the document, identify 2,594 more invalid signatures than the Secretary has calculated, and file an official challenge with the Secretary of State. I estimate the cost of obtaining the Amendment T petition, voter registration list, and labor to check all signatures will be around $13,600.
A workflow note: after taking 31 work days to certify the Glodt petition with over 53,000 calculated signatures, Team Krebs turned around the redistricting petition with over 43,000 signatures in three workdays. The difference is that the Secretary’s staff spent those first 31 days indexing all eight initiative petitions for sampling. The last three days were spent solely checking signatures in the 5% sample from the already indexed redistricting petition sheets. If Secretary Krebs keeps cracking the whip at this rate, I can estimate the completion times for the remaining six petitions:
|title||issue||submitted sigs||estimated sigs*||work days||cert date|
|21||36% rate cap||20,800||19,936||1.5||12/28/2015|
*Note that between the Glodt and redistricting amendments, Secretary Krebs has calculated between 1.7% and 6.9% more signatures submitted than the sponsors claimed. This strange math happens because when the Secretary counts signatures, she doesn’t actually count blanks on each sheet; she only looks at the last line filled on a sheet. If signers skip a line or two on a sheet, or if a signer makes an error and crosses out that line, or if a circulator reviews signatures and crosses out lines, those blanks and cross-outs still count in the Secretary’s count of “submitted signatures” and are included in the 5% sample. For the above work schedule, I have averaged the Secretary’s count inflation on the two certified petitions to 4.3% and applied it to the sponsors’ signature counts.
Update 16:07 CST: I originally figured the challenge deadline would be January 23, a straight 30 days after the certification date. However, an e-mail from the Secretary of State’s office indicates the challenge deadline for the Amendment T petition will be January 25, because January 23 is a Saturday!
Update 2015.12.28 15:45 CST: I have corrected the 23/Fair Share signature count from an error in the original post and moved the 23 and 24 certification dates back one day each. See an updated chart taking into account work time for IM 21 on my December 28 post on IM 21’s certification.