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No Open Primary Vote for Us—Krebs Rejects Kirby/Knudson Petition

The top-two open-primary amendment sponsored by Joe Kirby and De Knudson will not be on the November ballot. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs yesterday rejected the open-primary petition, saying Kirby and Knudson failed to collect enough signatures to qualify their measure for a public vote.

When Kirby and Knudson submitted their petition in November, I calculated that they had to have no more than a 25.49% error rate in the signatures they collected. In the 719-signature random sample Secretary Krebs took from the 37,197 signatures she counted, 31.43% of signatures were invalid. Secretary Krebs thus calculates that the entire petition included only 25,505 valid signatures, 2,236 (8.06%) shy of the 27,741 necessary to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.

What’s that Speaker Mickelson and Senator Bolin keep saying about how it’s too easy to amend our state constitution?

Kirby and Knudson’s ballot question committee received 75.7% of its funding ($155,500 out of $205,334.07) from Open Primaries, Inc., a New York-based firm. Even the out-of-state money that South Dakota Republicans have used as their excuse to attack our initiative process wasn’t enough to collect enough signatures to put the top-two open primary on our ballot.

The open-primary amendment’s error rate is the highest of the four initiative petitions reviewed so far this cycle. Amendment W, the IM 22 reboot, had an error rate of 28.63%. G. Mark Mickelson’s Initiated Measures 24 and 25 both exemplified good petitioning with error rates below 20%.

Four petitions remain in the boxes behind Deputy SOS Kea Warne’s desk. According to my projections, two will qualify—voting by mail and prescription drug price caps—and two will not—independent redistricting and medical marijuana. However, if those four petitions all match the open primary’s error rate, voting by mail would also fail.

The Kirby/Knudson measure would have placed all candidates for office, partisan and independent, on a single primary ballot in June. All registered voters would have been able to vote on that single ballot. The top two finishers in each race (top four in races like state House that have two seats available), regardless of party affiliation, would have advanced to the November ballot.