When you sign a petition, that’s it folks. But you also have to remember, just because you signed a petition does NOT mean you support the initiative, it only means you approve it is worthy to be on the ballot, I have voted against several initiatives in the past that I signed the petition because I think some things are worth voting on, like reproductive rights.

So the bill to allow people to take their sigs off of a petition after the fact is silly. It would be like passing a law that you could take your vote back after the election. Sorry, no dice.

The same group of clowns with a bible in one hole and a bullhorn in the other are behind this. They seem to be blurring the lines of democracy and theocracy.

There is plenty of research pointing out how idiotic this is: READ DOCUMENT HERE and some arguments against our very own homegrown version;

Should this bill pass: 

  1. This bill, if passed, would require additional staff to be hired by the Secretary of State’s office.? As such, perhaps it should pass through House Appropriations before going to the House for a vote. 
  1. As stated in committee, a similar bill passed in Florida and was declared unconstitutional.? We can assume that if this bill passes, it will be challenged in court, causing unnecessary cost to SD taxpayers. Fla. Justices Strike Down Signature-Revocation Law 
  1. The Secretery of State cannot leverage the sampling process using only the sampled signatures to mitigate their time commitment in verifying that withdrawals are indeed signatures that can be withdrawn. To use the sampling process would suggest that for every sampled signature that requested removal, at 5% statutory sampling rate, there are 20 others who wish the same. There is no sound statistical basis for making this claim. The SoS’s office will need to verify—among tens of thousands of hand-written signatures—that the withdrawal petitioner did indeed sign the petition. And this process will need to be repeated for every “withdrawn” signature. 
  1. The bill is very poorly-written, and contains a foggy, errant assumption that collides with Rule 5:02:08:00.05  which outlines the process for evaluating petitions and signatures. This requires some ‘splainin’. 
    Within this process a “signature” is actually a numbered “signature line” which is made up of 2 lines and is numbered sequentially on the petition form. When evaluating signatures in the Rule’s process, there a five designations on a per-signature-line basis: eligible, ineligible, valid, invalid, and blank. When sampling 5% of the signatures to statistically determine the number of valid signatures among the entire body of submitted petitions, a random sample will select lines for evaluation. If the line is both “eligible” and “valid” the process assumes that 20 other lines are valid among the body of petitions. Same with “invalid.” HOWEVER … if the line is either “blank” or “ineligible”—meaning the line has been crossed out by drawing a line through both lines of the “signature line”—the signature line cannot be added to the random sample, and its character cannot be extrapolated across the total body of petitions. 
    Withdrawing a signature equates with drawing a line through both lines of a signature, rendering the signature as “ineligible,” NOT as “invalid.” HB 1244 is mushy and unclear: “If a signature is withdrawn pursuant to section 1 of this Act, the signature is deemed withdrawn from the petition and may not be counted as valid in a challenge” suggesting that the line is deemed “invalid” for the sampling process, although such a signature is very obviously “ineligible” and cannot be considered within the verification process. The SoS CANNOT include the withdrawn signature as “invalid” within the sampling group. (See item 1, above.) If the SoS calls it invalid, it goes down, taking 20 other signatures with it. 

Other arguments against the bill: 

Circulators are required by law to offer a nonpartisan description of the measure written by the state’s Attorney General.? If the signer did not read the description and later claimed they were misled, it is their fault, not the fault of the sponsor of the petition.? The Secretary of State’s office should not be responsible for remedying the cognitive errors of the petition signers.? What happened to “personal responsibility?” 

A signature confirms a contract (to support putting a measure on the ballot.)? This statute would set a precedent of enabling people to back out of contractual obligations without due process.? In no area is this considered an acceptable practice. One must litigate retracting on a signed contract. This obligation should not be forced upon the Secretary of State’s office to resolve. 

Signing a petition does not mean support for the measure, it means support for putting a measure on the ballot for registered voters to decide.? It merely enables a community conversation and a subsequent vote if enough people agree.? 

The remedy for changing one’s mind already exists. Once a measure is placed on the ballot, the signer can at that point change their mind using a NO vote.? There is no reason for proponents to push this signature removal process EXCEPT to interfere with citizens’ rights to use Initiatives and Referenda.? 

This bill violates petitioners rights by allowing the petition process to be totally disrupted by those who wish to intentionally derail it by having bogus signers change their minds in order to create a bureaucratic nightmare with the Secretary of State’s office.?? 

Even if you believe someone should be able to remove their signature, this bill is not the way:? 

– there is no requirement that the withdrawal request be signed by the voter, which would allow fraudulent requests. 

– there is no requirement that the signature be notarized (as petitions must be notarized), which holds signature withdrawal to a lower standard, and would allow fraudulent requests. 

– there is no requirement to match the signature from a withdrawal request to that on the petition, which would allow fraudulent requests. 

– there is no way outlined in the bill to reinstate your signature if you change your mind again. 

– there is no punishment assigned for anyone falsely?trying to withdraw signatures. 

– the deadline is insufficient to prevent intentional disruption of petition validation and processing by Secretary of State. 

There should not be an emergency clause.? Ballot petitions already signed should not be subjected to any change in process until after July 1, 2024. 

This bill, if passed, would require additional staff to be hired by the Secretary of State’s office.? As such, perhaps it should pass through House Appropriations before going to the House for a vote. 

As stated in committee, a similar bill passed in Florida and was declared unconstitutional.? We can assume that if this bill passes, it will be challenged in court, causing unnecessary cost to SD taxpayers. 

Potential Tactic: Get an army of opponents to sign the petition, push it over the validation threshold and then petition to remove them all saying “misleading bill,“ and undercutting or putting uncertainty in the signature effort’s math. When is a signature a signature?? Not until after the withdrawal period? 

Potential Tactic. Buy the list of sampled signatures and go after each sampled signer to drive the end total down. 

6 Thoughts on “SD HB 1244 Should be deemed unconstitutional

  1. Very Stable Genius on February 18, 2024 at 3:06 pm said:

    There’s a minority of white conservatives who are trying to continue to run this state. And they will come up with very gimmick that they can think of, like this one, to lessen the true, or potential, democratic realities of our existence.

    Whether it be super precincts, questioning the validity of elections without proof, holding initiative or referendum votes during a primary to hopefully benefit from a reduced or controlled electorate, or this new stunt to stymie the petition process, some of our political leaders in this state are not about leading, but rather about controlling for the few; and their mere political existence for the most part has to do with their power, which often comes from things like gerrymandering, which itself is the oldest trick in the book, when it comes to effecting an outcome from our democratic process in the most undemocratic of manners.

  2. Scott D Hudson on February 18, 2024 at 8:32 pm said:

    Maybe their next move will be to require invisible ink pens for all petitions.

  3. Me sign, you sign, he be gone on February 19, 2024 at 9:13 am said:

    Just think, a candidate can get the required signatures and then a group of them can request too be removed. This would allow the signers a backroom chance to remove any opposition to their candidacy? It can be used for even more election crazy games.

  4. D@ily Spin on February 19, 2024 at 9:15 am said:

    How many will sign then purposely object so as to stall petitions? Tracking becomes a major hurdle. The petition process becomes a stagnant process subliminally taking away the voice of the people.

  5. Jackalope on February 19, 2024 at 9:37 am said:

    Going to the ultra controlled GOP promotional events under the false pretense of being legislative forums is real fun where they promote each other within the district, party and many times say how lucky we are with all the Freedom in SD. It could be a skit on SNL or a parody elsewhere.

    Many do not attend anymore and would rather get a tooth pulled without pain meds that subject themselves to this staged idiocy by authoritarians.

  6. Boyer Eudum on February 19, 2024 at 6:59 pm said:

    Bills like this one fulfill two useful purposes. They distract the public from the gifts being handed out to pipelines and other groups thereby funding a group of $500/hr lobbyist lawyers. They also fund a number of $500/hr lawyers to fight about the laws after the bill passes. If the legislature did not use this strategy the legislature might implement the voters will. Worse the liquor tax receipts would drop, and maybe even country club memberships. If you are thinking big picture not doing this could lead to 26th St going clear through from Kiwanis to Marion Rd and beyond. Think how bad that would be. The riff-raff in the Western suburbs would be clogging the emergency rooms. We should be proud our legislature is so focused on economic development. This is real economic development and it may even be more productive than TIFs.

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