Readers, I have a serious question for you: should we challenge Annette Bosworth's U.S. Senate nominating petition?

Fake candidate Bosworth claims to have submitted 2,750 signatures to earn a spot on the Republican U.S. Senate primary ballot. Her name does not appear on the list of approved GOP U.S. Senate candidates Secretary of State Jason Gant posted this afternoon; the names of Stace Nelson, Larry Rhoden, Jason Ravnsborg, and Mike Rounds do. We may assume that Secretary Gant's team will get to Bosworth's signatures at breakfast tomorrow.

2,750 is 40.7% more signatures than the 1,955 required to make the Republican ballot. Under normal conditions, that's a really safe cushion.

Team Bosworth does not operate under normal conditions. Bosworth and her husband Chad Haber are not known for effective organization and management skills. Bosworth does not know the issues; she may not know campaign law.

Nor are Bosworth and Haber are also known for integrity. They've manufactured stories. They launched their campaign with fake and clumsy web publicity. They've cooked up fake names, stolen a man's image, and plagiarized my blog material to promote the Bosworth brand. Would they have the moral restraint not to cook up fake petition signatures?

On the other hand, Base Connect and other campaign fundraisers are making money off Bosworth. A reliable source tells me that those fundraisers, who may well be keeping all of the money they raise through direct mail and giving Bosworth inflated campaign finance figures of which she will never spend a penny on actual campaigning in South Dakota, paid to ensure the petition drive's success. Bosworth had no grassroots network of South Dakota volunteers, but she had paid operatives motivated by the prospect of riding Bosworth's gravy train to two months more of campaign profit.

Now consider the following facts about petition challenges that I laid out in the comment section Sunday:

  • SDCL 12-1-13 specifies that "any interested party" may challenge a petition. Challengers have five business days from the date of filing to challenge. A challenge must include an itemized list of specific deficiencies identified in the petition.
  • The Secretary of State charges $1 per copy/page, so 2,750 signatures (max 20 signatures per sheet, front and back, surely some sheets not full, so guesstimate 300–350 pages), obtaining every page to verify signatures and mark errors would cost $300–$350 pages.
  • There are four levels of error-checking:
    1. A challenger can check for obvious errors: missing or misdated notary seals, improperly completed candidate declaration, and missing signatory information. That just takes a good eye and time.
    2. A challenger can engage Google and brains to look for invalid signers: dead people, fake names, duplicate names, etc.
    3. A challenger can spend money and match each name on the petition to the voter registration list. To obtain an electronic copy of that list, one must pay the Secretary of State $2,500 (paper costs $5,500).
    4. A challenger can cross-check signatures on Bosworth's petition with signatures on petitions already submitted for Nelson, Rhoden, Pressler, Rounds, and Ravnsborg. Bosworth filed last, so if any of Bosworth's signatories signed other petitions, their names don't count for Bosworth. That's about 19,000 unalphabetized signatures, available only in scanned, non-computer-searchable or sortable PDF format, spread across at least 1,900 pages, which would cost $1,900 and a lot of eye-strain.

Given that information, does anyone want to pass the hat to verify that Bosworth's petition has followed the laws of the state of South Dakota? Or can citizens interested in truth and justice get a better return from their time, effort, and money from other projects?