Sioux Falls City Clerk Lorie Hogstad has finished her standard petition review on Save Our Neighborhood's petition to refer to a public vote a key rezoning decision that allowed Walmart to move forward with a planned Supercenter at the corner of 85th St. and Minnesota Ave. in Sioux Falls. She finds that "a sufficient number of qualified electors have signed the Petition" [Lorie Hogstad, Letter "Re: Referendum Petition on Ordinance No. 49-13," 2013/09/27].

The random-sample verification process estimates that 86.77% of the signatures are valid, meaning they are from registered voters living within Sioux Falls city limits. With 6,362 signatures turned in, that estimate would indicate 5,642 valid signatures, nearly 600 more than the 5,089 needed for a successful petition. Given the complexities of signature collection, a validity rate north of 85% seems a pretty solid outcome for Save Our Neighborhood.

Hogstad's review, however, does not directly respond to the 2,084 specific points of dispute outlined in an affidavit filed September 9 challenging the petition. Hogstad says in a new release today that she expects the additional review to take another 3-4 weeks.

The affidavit was signed by Margaret Nelson and has the support of Walmart and of the current owners of the land in question, the Homan family, who said at the time of the filing:

We have reviewed the signatures seeking to undo the City Council’s recent approval decision and believe that this effort has fallen short of the minimum requirements needed to make the zoning of our land a ballot initiative. We hope that this will enable the Sioux Falls community and our family to finally move on and ensure people in Sioux Falls have the options they both want and deserve [Homan family statement, cited by Jon Walker, "Walmart disputes 2,084 signatures in petition; family that owns land issues statement," That Sioux Falls Paper, 2013/09/10].

The result of the City Clerk's Office's next month or so of work may give us an interesting opportunity to confirm (or perhaps challenge) the validity of the random-sample verification process for petitions. If the formal challenge, which requires Hogstad and her staff to provide a specific written response to each challenged petition and/or signature, turns out differently from this initial review, it would call into question whether the standard approach to verifying petitions sufficiently upholds the regulations about how we put things on the ballot in South Dakota.