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HB 1094 Creates Circulator Registry (and Fee to Circulate!) to Hinder Initiative and Referendum

Representative Jon Hansen’s first Wednesday hoghouse was about creating cost and complication for ballot question sponsors at the end of the petition process. His second Wednesday hoghouse is about adding cost and complications at the front end, before ballot question petitions even get off the ground.

Hansen’s House Bill 1094 started as an empty shell waiting to promote “transparency of the petition circulation process.” In House State Affairs Wednesday, he brought eleven sections of bill text. Here’s the breakdown:

Section 1 changes definitions pertaining to ballot question circulators. Most importantly, it severs the definition of circulator from the law governing candidate petitions and uniquely requires circulators to have resided in South Dakota for at least thirty days before registration.

Registration? As a circulator? Yes:

Section 3. That chapter 2-1 be amended by adding a NEW SECTION to read:

Prior to circulation of any petition for a ballot measure, a petition circulator shall submit an application to the secretary of state, obtain a circulator identification number, and be included in a directory of registered petition circulators. For each ballot measure on which a petition circulator seeks to circulate a petition, the petition circulator shall complete a sworn affidavit including the circulator’s name, age, physical address of current residence, physical address of prior residence if current residence is less than one year, email address, phone number, state of issuance for driver license, state of voter registration, occupation, the ballot question committee supporting the ballot measure, whether the petition circulator will be volunteer or paid, and whether the petition circulator is a registered sex offender. The affidavit under this section shall be submitted to the office of the secretary of state. If any statement included in the petition circulator’s affidavit is determined to be false, any signatures collected by the petition circulator are void and may not be counted. Petition sponsors shall provide a list to the secretary of state of any person acting as a petition circulator for the sponsor’s ballot measure, whether the petition circulator is paid or volunteer and, if paid, the rate of compensation.

A petition circulator and petition sponsor shall update any information required under this section with the secretary of state not more than seven days of any change.

Section 4 makes all of that circulator information public. Section 5 requires paid circulators to pay $20 to register. For your $20, you get a “petition circulator” badge (Sections 6 and 7) with your circulator ID number, name of the committee you’re working for, and the designation “paid” or “volunteer”. (Actually, a snag there: even though Section 5 says the fee doesn’t apply to volunteers, Section 6 says the SOS issues badges only after receipt of application and registration fee, so it appears to preclude volunteers from getting a badge.)

Another complication: badges are supposed to be different colors for different years. since initiative circulation can start in November two years before the election and run until one year before the election, a circulator who starts work on, say, November 15, 2020, will need one badge for a month and a half and another badge starting January 1, 2021… and Section 5 appears to require a new fee each year.

Worst of all, if I intend to carry more than one petition, I have to file more than one application and wear more than one badge.

Sections 2, 8, 9, and 10 strike the odious compelled speech imposed by 2018 HB 1177, which Republicans passed to require that little old ladies circulating ballot question petitions give out their name, e-mail address, and phone number to everyone who signs her petition. However, HB 1094 as amended requires little old ladies and other circulators to surrender even more information to their signers by printing their circulator ID numbers on every petition signature page they circulate as well as their circulator handouts. With that ID number, any signer (or non-signer who glances at the petition) will be able to go online (right there, with his or her phone) and find the circulator’s “name, age, physical address of current residence, physical address of prior residence if current residence is less than one year, email address, phone number, state of issuance for driver license, state of voter registration, occupation, the ballot question committee supporting the ballot measure, whether the petition circulator will be volunteer or paid, and whether the petition circulator is a registered sex offender.”

With this requirement, Representative Hansen manages to make the circulation process even worse for volunteers and sponsors. HB 1094 would subject volunteer circulators to harassment from petition opponents at home. Sponsors would have to print not just custom circulator handouts but custom petitions with circulator numbers. Even if sponsors and circulators could hand-write that information on pre-made sheets, circulators can no longer recruit a volunteer on the spot to help gather extra signatures in a big crowd; circulators can’t touch a petition until they submit an application to Pierre get an ID and badge from the Secretary of State, who is given no time limit for approving circulator applications. Even if the application is processed with the lightning efficiency of Shantel Krebs, it will still take a couple days for the application to get to Pierre, a business day for the printing of a badge, and couple days for the application to get back to the circulator. That’s at least five days between the time a volunteer indicates a willingness to help and the time the sponsor can actually capitalize on that offer.

Note also that none of these requirements would apply to people circulating candidate petitions. If you want to put an actual person on the ballot, someone who will be in office for two to six years making all sorts of laws and hiring all sorts of family and friends, Hansen and the GOP Legislative caucus have no interest in complicating your day. But if you dare check the authority of the Legislature by tinkering with one little law, it’s bureaucracy and strip searches for you!

I guarantee that if some brave soul could walk in and amend HB 1094 to apply all of these circulator requirements to folks circulating candidate petitions, legislators would kill it immediately. HB 1094 in its pending amended form isn’t about addressing any real problem in a substantive way; it’s about further hindering the initiative and referendum process to protect the power of the Legislature.

By the way, Section 11 postpones enactment of the circulator registry until July 1, 2020. The current cycle of petitioning would thus proceed entirely under the current onerous rules, before getting worse for the 2022 cycle. Yay.

House State Affairs approved the hoghouse but deferred action on HB 1094 until another day.


  1. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-02-08 08:33

    I spent 20 years lobbying the SoDak legislature to repeal insane laws and institute saner ones. I came to the conclusion that the majority of SoDak voters believe that the goal of voting is to send the stupidest candidates to Pierre and Washington.

  2. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-02-08 08:39

    Oh, and with the outing of grudznick, grudgenutz’s work was done. The artist formerly known as “grudgenutz” has begun a new campaign. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices will devote her life to recognizing the self-serving public service sacrifices, inspired by the Novstrup dynasty, of legislators like Jon Hansen, Phil Jensen, Jeff Monroe, and many others becoming more numerous every election cycle.

  3. Porter Lansing 2019-02-08 11:51

    These regulations are way over the top of “safety for circulators”. No analogy needed.

  4. Porter Lansing 2019-02-08 12:47

    @Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices – grudznick currently lobby’s for ~ South Dakota Education Association – South Dakota Stockgrowers Association – NW Chapter of ISRI (Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries in five states and two Canadian Provinces)- Republic National Distributing Company-SD (one of the nation’s leading wholesale liquor, wine and alcohol distributors, specializing in wine and spirits) – South Dakota Society for Respiratory Care (all women on the Board – huh?) – Regional Health, Inc. (hospitals in Rapid City, Newcastle WY and Deadwood)

  5. Debbo 2019-02-08 16:33

    The SDGOP seems to have lost all sense of the real purpose of becoming a legislator. Here is a much better description than watching them. It comes from an outstanding interview in The Guardian that reminds us of what government can really be. I urge you to read it.

    “I was listening to an extraordinary conversation Ocasio-Cortez had with the American writer Ta‑Nehisi Coates in a church a couple of weeks ago for Martin Luther King Day. Ocasio-Cortez made the point that elected officials like her are really followers rather than leaders. She said: “Part of the job of elected public office is translating public will into the law of the land. Who shapes, who directs and who moves that public will? Writers, journalists, activists, artists.” And that is so true. It was the job of Upton Sinclair to show what the slaughterhouses were actually like, and what labouring conditions were actually like, and then politicians made laws to improve things. It has been such a grim time for journalism, for books and many of these other things, in part, because of plutocrats and the monopolistic world they have built. But I come to this conversation so optimistic about the power of ideas and books right now. I feel like what we are witnessing is a profound cultural turning point in relation to these issues, caused by activists, artists and writers who are changing what the public wants by telling honest stories.”

    My friends, we here on DFP, are activists. 😁

  6. Debbo 2019-02-08 16:37

    From the same article:

    “My view from the US, and I bet it’s true in Britain to a certain extent, is that you have two big things happening to a lot of white working-class communities. On the one hand, they have been victims of a great plutocratic theft, like everybody else over the last generation. To the extent that they feel like they can’t raise children who will have a better life than them, they can’t get the kind of education that gives them a piece of the dream, they can’t have the kind of healthcare that allows them to not think about healthcare all the time, they feel that theft.

    “The problem is that those people also feel a second theft, which is not actually a theft, which is the rise of women and minorities, and immigrants and African Americans. In fact that’s not a theft at all, it’s a wave of rising equality; it is justice. But I think we have to accept that the psychological experience of this change may also be felt as a theft. What Donald Trump did is to exploit the pain caused by the real theft, and to divert blame for it on to the non-theft. He made it all about the cultural ascendancy of others – they are the ones who stole the dream from you.

    “And instead of encouraging people to punch up at the powerful, he encouraged them to punch out, at women and minorities and the Other. I think the political challenge for us is to go to those communities and not to pander but to speak compellingly to both of those experiences of feeling wary of the future, and to identify the real reasons why it has happened.”

  7. Porter Lansing 2019-02-08 17:23

    We ARE activists, Debbo. In SD, often liberal’s (the word is no longer considered detrimental by the majority of Americans) only reward is knowing deep inside that we’re right.

  8. Donald Pay 2019-02-08 21:08

    It’s really unconstitutional. You can’t have these regulations on free speech, redress of grievances, etc. A lot of the regulatory structure surrounding initiatives is complete;u against the SD and US Constitutions. I don’t know why people don’t take all of this to court.

    I’ve been someone who has said that there needs to be better circulatory training. You can do some of the things in this bill, but you have to have a rational system, not this piece of sh*t bill.

    The major problems have always been candidate circulation and paid circulation. You rarely have problems when the ballot measure petitions comes from a grassroots citizen effort by South Dakotans with voluntary circulators. I don’t have a problem with better regulation. This ain’t it. Most seems to be really poorly thought out. Some of it is OK. And it should apply to candidate circulation as well.

    The problem is the whole process is far too unconstitutionally bureaucratic, made so by the Republicans over twenty years. There’s too much up front bullcrap in the initiative process. All that stuff needs to go. It is not needed at all, and makes it more likely that the initiative will be used only by out-of-state interests and billionaires.

    What you can do is make this volunary.

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