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Board of Elections Meets August 13 to Consider Rules for Circulator ID Numbers on Petitions

The Secretary of State’s office very kindly informs me that the State Board of Elections will meet Tuesday, August 13, at 10 a.m. Central to discuss, among other things, the rules necessary to implement the odious and unconstitutional circulator registry and badging requirements imposed by democracy-hating Representative Jon Hansen’s House Bill 1094. I tried to spare them that trouble with my failed referendum drive, and I’ll keep trying to moot any such rule-making.

But rule the Board must, even if I’m working on killing HB 1094 before any ballot question petition circulator is oppressed by it. And rule they propose to do, offering me the chance to election-nerd out on a drizzly Saturday morning:

Circulator ID Numbers on Petitions: HB 1094 requires that “The petition circulator’s circulator identification number shall be printed on each signature page of a ballot measure petition the circulator circulates.” To implement that requirement, the Secretary of State proposes to the board an amendment to ARSD 5:02:08:00 that would require that “the petition circulator write his or her circulator number on each page of the petition.” The Secretary then proposes amending the forms of initiated law, referendum, and initiated amendment petitions to place the blank for the circulator ID number on a separate line at the top of each petition sheet:

snippet from Administrative Rule Changes, proposed to Board of Elections by Secretary of State's Office, received by DFP 2019.07.19.
snippet from Administrative Rule Changes, proposed to Board of Elections by Secretary of State’s Office, received by DFP 2019.07.19.

These rules changes have two problems. First, do we really want to specify that the circulator write the ID number on each sheet? What if the petition sponsor has an automated system to print custom petition forms, including circulator ID number, for each circulator? This rule is a rare good place for passive voice: the presence of the number matters, not the person who puts it there, so let’s reword the amendment to mirror the passive voice used in statute: “The circulator ID number shall be printed on each page of the petition.”

Second, these changes propose to take up a whole extra line on the front of the petition sheet. This not only crowds out initiative text and signature lines, but it also separates the ID number from the circulator’s other information, which is printed at the bottom in the circulator’s verification. If we must have ID numbers on petitions, rather than asking circulators to put their information in two places as far apart as possible, it makes more sense to allow circulators to put all of their information in the same place where they are less likely to forget anything:

Proposed placement of circulator ID number at end of ballot question petition, next to other circulator info.
If Jon Hansen insists on ID numbers, how about we get to put them at the end, where we put our other info?

I am surprised to find that the proposed rules do not include any provisions specifying the form that HB 1094’s circulator badges will take. What shape and color will they be? Will we get different shapes and colors for different ballot measures? Remember, a circulator has to wear a different badge for each petition she carries, so I would think it would be useful to have, say, green badges for a minimum wage petition, blue for a petition to fund mental health services, pale pink for a gun rights petition….

Plus, it would be nice if administrative rule would spell out a time frame for producing and delivering those badges. After all, we’re already going to valuable circulating time registering every circulator with the state. It would be nice to have some guidelines requiring the Secretary to print and ship badges within a certain time period (one business day would be fair) to prevent any further delay of this basic exercise of First Amendment rights.

But maybe the Secretary of State recognizes as I do that, one way or another, HB 1094 will not stand, and any rules made to implement it now will just have to be scrubbed from the books in a year or two.


  1. Cathy B 2019-07-20 13:53

    Maybe the SOS could issue the badge via email. Then I could print it out on whatever color paper I want and insert it into a plastic sleeve type nametag. That way, someone could figure out how to have all the badges the same color for a given campaign. Plus, I could make several, so I could have them handy to put on when I see someone whom I want to invite to sign. Otherwise, I might forget my badge on my sweater or jacket that I just left at home or in the car. – – just thinking.

  2. leslie 2019-07-20 22:29

    Yeah, or left it in another state. Just kidding.

    Best wishes Cory for pushing against this so hard. I am grateful.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-07-21 07:37

    Cathy, that’s not a bad idea. It would be nice to have some system that allows the instant issuance of circulator badges. Maybe the SOS and the DOR could cooperate and make our license plate tag kiosks issue stickers for circulator badges.

  4. grudznick 2019-07-21 08:16

    The badges of circulators need to be large and readable to old eyes. I propose 12″ ceramic breakfast plates, painted with an elaborate design and portraying the tag number assigned to the person or persons pushing the issues, worn around the neck with a sisal rope. If your breakfast plate gets shattered you must stop hawking your measure and get a new one.

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