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Nebraska Man Broke SD Law by Submitting Three Initiated Amendments Too Early

I noticed that Secretary of State Steve Barnett has posted potential ballot questions for 2024 down at the bottom of the 2022 ballot questions page. That list includes the proposed initiative, with Legislative Research Comment, to codify Roe v. Wade in South Dakota’s Constitution.

But surprisingly, that list also includes three proposed amendments that were submitted and reviewed in violation of South Dakota law.

The three amendments come from Arthur Taylor of Winnebago, Nebraska. Taylor submitted a largely incomprehensible initiative in 2020 dealing with the single-subject rule, initiative petitions, and Presidential elections. Taylor never followed up on that 2020 draft with revised language for the Attorney General’s review or a final petition for circulation.

Now Taylor, calling himself “President” of “Families for America, Inc.,” has submitted and received comment from LRC on three new constitutional initiatives, evidently submitted in sequence:

  1. A new Article 33 that would
    1. ban voting machines;
    2. require hand counts of all ballots by two people;
    3. assign one person appointed by the Legislature to resolve all count disagreements;
    4. ban mail-in ballots except for voters who request them with a state-issued driver’s license;
    5. ban Internet connectivity at any polling place during voting and counting;
    6. confiscate cell phones from vote counters (but not from count observers);
    7. ban delivery of box or container to any polling place;
    8. require valid state-issued driver’s license to register to vote;
    9. limit early voting to two weeks before the election;
    10. ignore any mail-in ballots received less than two days before election day;
    11. require voters to show a valid state-issued driver’s license to get a ballot;
    12. require that all election observers stand within five feet of any station they desire to observe;
    13. allow election observers in a polling station and private citizens outside a polling station “to photograph” (defined as including “video-taping and the recording of sound and voice”) “any and all activities they desire” with no liability;
    14. require that ballots be counted where they are cast;
    15. require that votes be counted without pause immediately after closing of the polls;
    16. require that all votes be counted and reported within six hours of the closing of the polls;
    17. deem invalid any votes that are reported after that six-hour deadline;
    18. mandate preliminary vote-count reports at 11:59 p.m. the night before the election and hourly after the closing of the polls;
    19. allow the Legislature to change or ignore the vote count for President and Vice-President and directly appoint Presidential Electors;
    20. assign enforcement of all election law to the Legislature;
    21. make all election-related materials, files, databases, and ballots open to inspection to all political party representatives, legislators, courts, and any group of 1,000 or more registered voters for 120 days after the election;
    22. make voter fraud “treason against the state”;
    23. make it a “Class III felony” to deny election observers their rights, delete or destroy election records or ballots in the 120-day review period, fail to report election results on time, or count ballots with an intentional lack of good faith to cause ballots to be adjudicated.
  2. A new Article 34 establishing parental rights and prohibiting “obstruction or interference” with those rights by the government “or any other institution”… even though the listed examples of rights include multiple provisions for the law to prohibit certain parental actions.
  3. A new Article 35 that would (1) prohibit anyone, state or private, from requiring anyone to take a vaccine or any medication that has not “been in existence and successfully tested for at least 20 years without significant modification,” is “an RNA vaccine”, or has been blocked by Legislative action, and (2) require providers of any vaccines (Taylor doesn’t mention other medications in this clause) to put 75% of their revenues in a Legislatively controlled escrow account to pay medical claims.

These three initiatives are all nutbar stuff. The election amendment is a Trumpist effort to destroy democracy: letting the Legislature ignore Presidential votes and issue judgment on all complaints about election violations renders popular voting meaningless; requiring two people to count every ballot by hand in six hours is practically impossible and guarantees less accurate results, and that madness about making voter fraud “treason” doesn’t even comport with the existing constitutional definition of “treason against the state.” The parental rights amendment is vague sloganeering with no clear vision of what it actually, legally accomplishes or wrecks. The vaccine/medication amendment is medically unsound, impractical, and destructive of public health.

But the legal point I want to make here is that Taylor submitted these proposals in violation of South Dakota law. The LRC’s comment on the elections amendment indicates Taylor submitted his proposal on December 15, 2021. All three LRC responses are dated April 19, 2022. Even if Taylor submitted his parental rights and anti-vax amendments later than December 15, he had to have submitted them before mid-April.

SDCL 12-13-25 says sponsors cannot submit draft initiatives to the LRC for review any earlier than six months before the time that sponsors may begin circulating petitions for those initiatives. Petition circulating for 2024 ballot measures may begin November 5, 2022. That means the LRC could not accept any draft initiatives for review before May 5, 2022.

That means Taylor broke the law in submitting his draft initiatives well before May 5. The LRC may also have violated its statutory authority by reviewing and issuing comment on these illegally submitted drafts.

But hey, we can’t expect a guy who wants to nullify elections and let disease run rampant to have much understanding of, let alone care for, the finer points of South Dakota petition law.

Technically speaking, these three illegally submitted amendments should not appear on the Secretary of State’s list of potential ballot questions for 2024. The LRC should withdraw its comments refuse to formally issue comment until draft initiatives are legally received from the sponsor. Taylor may legally submit draft initiative amendments to the LRC today and, practically, any time from now until roughly July 1, 2023, at which point the long (95 days!), tedious process of state review and approval of measures for circulation would make getting a petition on the streets and collecting the 30K+ signatures necessary to qualify an amendment for the 2024 ballot impossible.

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  1. John Dale 2022-07-11 18:43

    In this episode of the initiative wars ..

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-07-12 07:19

    If Arthur Taylor were serious, he’d be communicating with the Patriot Ripple Effect in Lincoln County, the folks who are backing Monae Johnson and who tried to oust Rhoden and Jackley, and get them to fire up around these initiatives when he legally resubmits them to the LRC.

  3. Mark Anderson 2022-07-12 18:13

    Let’s see, two people counting the ballots. All ballots counted within six hours. Would I get a bathroom break, coffee?

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