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Secretary of State Warns Petition Sponsors That Nov. 4 5 p.m. Deadline Stands, GOP Paperwork Be Darned

As another sign of how Republicans have throttled initiative process with excessive paperwork, the Secretary of State’s office is giving petition sponsors a warning that the office may not be able to accommodate their need for notarization if they bring their petitions in on the day of the deadline:

As we plan for November 4, we need to know if you are anticipating that our staff notarizes all your sponsor affidavits of circulator residency?

If the answer is yes, please keep in mind that all of those (for all ballot measures turned in) have to be completed by 5pm CT on November 4. If they are not all notarized by 5pm CT then we may not be able to accept the petitions for those circulators. With the amount of potential affidavits to notarize, bringing in your petitions in the afternoon is not recommended as we may not get everything notarized by 5pm CT.

Example: if we have 1500 affidavits to notarize and we assume one minute for each it would take four staff members over six hours each to notarize all of those [South Dakota Secretary of State’s office, e-mail to ballot question sponsors, 2019.10.16].

In the old days—i.e., two years ago, and through the rest of the history of the ballot question process—ballot question sponsors had one additional document they had to submit with their petitions, one simple affidavit, which the Secretary could notarize in a minute, affirming that, yup, this is the complete petition. Now, a good ballot question sponsor with lots of grassroots circulators—say, a thousand, each collecting 25 to 50 signatures from friends and neighbors—has one thousand circulator affidavits, each already sworn and notarized by the circulator but requiring a second notary seal over the sponsor’s signature.

A sponsor could take those thousand affidavits to the UPS Store, but UPS charges $10 per notary seal. It would thus cost an effective sponsor $10,000 just to get these redundant documents notarized… not to mention 1,000 minutes—almost seventeen hours—of signing sheets and sliding them to the notary to stamp.

These documents are, as I said, entirely redundant: each circulator has already sworn her or his residency under oath, under notary seal, on each petition sheet she or he circulated. All these circulator residency affidavits do is create more paperwork, more delay… and more chances for something to go wrong and disenfranchise tens of thousands of South Dakotans who want to vote on an issue.


  1. Porter Lansing 2019-10-16 20:22

    Because … Destroying Democracy Can Be Fun. Imagine if these clever legislators applied their big brains to helping people that really need it? Nah. It’s just a game to them and most couldn’t make it on a sports team, so this is how they compensate.

  2. grudznick 2019-10-16 20:43

    Either this secretary fellow is just a bossturd, or perhaps he’s just trying to save the stupid people from themselves. People just need to do a better job planning ahead. Work harder, plan ahead, and you will succeed in life. Don’t be a dumbass and show up unprepared at 4:33pm with eggs and bacon on your face, and the stench of demon weed on your breath.

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-16 20:58

    There’s the predictable contemptuous GOP legislator response: you just have to plan better to jump through all of our unnecessary hoops! That’s like telling women and minorities they just need to work harder to make up for sexism and racism. How about we root out the real problems? Why should honest citizens have to plan for immoral, unnecessary laws? The right response is to repeal those bad laws.

  4. grudznick 2019-10-16 21:09

    Mr. H, that’s like me complaining that every stoplight doesn’t just flip green when it’s most convenient for me, not for you. It’s unnecessary the light be red for grudznick, it doesn’t matter if it’s red for Mr. H. Just be green for grudznick. Why should it just be green for women when grudznick should be treated just as equal?

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-10-16 21:24

    More false rhetoric. I’m not asking to rig the stoplights in my favor or anyone else’s. I’m saying we had plenty of stoplights before the Legislature went light-crazy, and I’m asking why the Legislature thinks it now needs to put stoplights in the middle of every block between my house (and every citizen’s block except for the legislators’) and the Capitol.

  6. grudznick 2019-10-16 21:44

    That, Mr. H, is the prerogative of the legislatures, and it is not for us to question. We can, however, get into the legislatures as a member ourselves and try and have some direct say. Otherwise, you should contact your senator and voice your opinion and ask him (or her) to vote your way.

  7. Certain Inflatable Recreational Devices 2019-10-16 21:45

    Cory responds to grudznick as if he is Art Bell responding to a 3AM caller claiming to have just been released from an alien spaceship after having undergone anal probing.

    Why, Cory, why do you pander to this less-than-contributory evil pseudonym?

  8. Donald Pay 2019-10-16 21:48

    Planning ahead is always a good thing to do. In this case, however, I would put the onus on the Secretary of State to plan ahead.

    This is what the Republicans delivered with their effort to bureaucratize the initiative process, and the Secretary of State should have planned ahead to deliver good customer service. It was no secret that this is what was going to happen. Didn’t the Secretary of State plan ahead?

    Rather than whine about and look for excuses not do the job that office was given, the Secretary of State needs to staff that office for as long as it takes to provide that customer service. When polling stations across the state have long lines, poll workers stay late and provide service for those citizens so they can do their civic duty. The least the Secretary of State could do is to do the job of the Secretary of State. If that doesn’t happen, maybe a resignation is in order.

  9. grudznick 2019-10-16 21:51

    Mr. Pay does have a good point there. And there was an onus, an onus I say, not an anus for probing, for the legislatures to give said State Secretary the resources to accomplish the laws they passed. There is more blame to spread there, probably on the Council of Research itself because they did not research this.

  10. Debbo 2019-10-16 23:41

    I’m in agreement with Don. The petitioners are responsible to get their petitions there prior to the deadline. The notarizing is the SOS’s job. It’s not the petitioners job to ensure that the SOS has enough time to finish his responsibility when he’d prefer.

  11. Donald Pay 2019-10-17 09:15

    One thing people are tired of is corruption, incompetence and blame-shifting of the people in charge of government. The responsible parties here are majority in the Legislature, the Governor, and the Secretary of State. Don’t go blaming the common people who try to follow the arcane bureaucratic cluster**** that these folks have concocted in order to try to dissuade people from using their Constitutional rights. Those Constitutional rights extend beyond the Secretary of State’s desire to slip into a speakeasy at 5:00 pm and drink to a great day of stripping people of those rights. If the Secretary of State can’t deliver on the duties of the office, then a resignation is in order. A good SOS would speak out for the rights of the common folk. That’s what most Secretaries of State have done. Unfortunately, government service has become, in the era of corruption, more for self-dealing than serving people.

  12. Jason Hill 2019-10-18 19:05

    Excellent comment, Donald!

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