At 4:40 p.m. today, elections officer Brandon Johnson of the South Dakota Secretary of State's office accepted a formal challenge to Annette Bosworth's nominating petition. Last week, the Sioux Falls physician filed a petition seeking a spot on the Republican primary ballot for U.S. Senate. Including petition sheets delivered to the Secretary of State's office last week, Bosworth submitted 2,868 signatures, 913 more than the 1,955 needed to make the Republican ballot.
A review of that petition has determined that the Secretary of State may invalidate 1,154 of those signatures, more than 40% of the total, leaving only 1,714 valid signatures. Other errors and possible fraud identified may disqualify an even larger number of signatures, if not the entire petition.
If the Secretary of State's office confirms the findings of this challenge, Annette Bosworth will not appear on the Republican ballot in the June 3 primary.
Below is the full text of the affidavit submitted this afternoon:
I, Cory Allen Heidelberger, swear that the following statements are, to the best of my knowledge as of Tuesday, April 1, 2014, true and accurate. I offer these statements and attached supporting documents as a formal challenge, per SDCL 12-1-13, to the nominating petition ("Petition") of Annette Bosworth ("Bosworth") as candidate in the Republican Primary for United States Senate as submitted to the South Dakota Secretary of State on March 25, 2014, and as supplemented by petition sheets delivered by registered mail to the Secretary of State on March 26, 2014.
- On March 26, 2014, the office of the South Dakota Secretary of State ("Secretary") provided me with a copy of 213 sheets submitted for the Petition. On March 31, 2014, the Secretary provided me with a copy of 14 addition Petition sheets submitted by mail. All sheet numbers herein refer to the order in which the sheets appear in those copies.
- I have since reviewed the Petition and have found the following violations and other deficiencies that render the Petition invalid.
- Petition sheets 20, 129, 192, 203, and 207 list Annette Bosworth as circulator. Petition sheet 44 lists Chad Haber as circulator. Petition sheets 20, 44, 129, 192, 203, and 207 include voter signatures dated between 1/5/2014 and 1/15/2014. During those dates, Bosworth and Haber were on a publicized medical mission trip to the Philippines. Neither Bosworth nor Haber could have gathered signatures in Huron, Aberdeen, Parkston, Sioux Falls, Lake Andes, or Vermillion during that time. The signers listed on those sheets on those dates were not all in the Philippines during that time. Bosworth and Haber thus swore false oaths on these Petition sheets, invalidating all signatures on those sheets.
- Bosworth's and Haber's violations of their circulator's oath further casts doubt on the validity of all other Petition sheets circulated by Bosworth and Haber. All sheets circulated by Bosworth or by Haber should be rejected. Rejecting all sheets circulated by Bosworth or by Haber leaves only 1,426 signatures, not enough to qualify Bosworth for the ballot.
- Joel Arends notarized Petition sheets 44 and 192. Arends helped organize and publicize Bosworth and Haber's medical mission trip. Arends knew Haber and Bosworth were out of the country during dates included on the petitions on which he notarized Bosworth's and Haber's false circulator's oaths. Arends thus misused his notary seal in support of the Petition, casting doubt on the validity of all Petition sheets notarized by Arends. All sheets notarized by Arends should be rejected. Rejecting all sheets notarized by Arends leaves only 1,402 signatures, not enough to qualify Bosworth for the ballot.
- Rejecting all sheets circulated by Bosworth, all sheets circulated by Haber, and all sheets notarized by Arends leaves only 1,103 signatures, not enough to qualify Bosworth for the ballot.
- Even if the Secretary applies the above evidence to invalidate only the individual sheets on which violations took place and not all sheets circulated by Bosworth or Haber and/or notarized by Arends, the Petition contains several other deficiencies that disqualify entire sheets and individual signatures and leave the Petition with insufficient valid signatures.
- The circulator did not print her name on sheets 24, 45, or 61. SDAR 05:02:08:00.01 makes clear that a petition "must include the printed name of the circulator." The circulator's failure to print her name on those three sheets invalidates those three sheets.
- On sheets 75, 88, 194, and 195, the handwriting for signers' addresses and dates does not match the handwriting of the signers or of the circulator. Signers give the circulator that information. SDAR 05:02:08:00(3) allows the circulator to add address and date information to the petition for signers. State law and administrative rules authorize no one other than the signer or the circulator to add that information. Because neither the signers nor the circulators of these sheets appear to have written that information, these sheets are invalid.
- On sheets 117 and 212, the notarizing officers also sign to nominate the candidate. SDCL 18-1-7 prohibits notary publics from using their seal "in connection with any instrument which shows upon its face that he is a principal party thereto." Signing the petition to nominate Bosworth makes each notary public a principal party to the Petition. The notary seals on sheets 117 and 212 are thus invalid, invalidating all signatures on those sheets.
- Additionally, sheet 212 has no signature of the officer administering the circulator's oath, further supporting rejection of the entire sheet.
- Sheets 130, 137, and 218 have invalid notarization dates, thus invalidating those sheets entirely.
- Sheet 161 was circulated by Lachlyn Kilpatrick. The circulator also signed the sheet to nominate Bosworth. This violation normally invalidates only the circulator's nominating signature. In this case, the circulator appears to have disguised her signature by signing nominating line 13 with her maiden name. These signatures cast doubt on the reliability of the entire sheet, which should be rejected in total.
- The Petition contains numerous individual deficiencies that disqualify hundreds of signers. These deficiencies include but are not limited to the following:
- Signers do not appear to be registered Republican voters (approx. 380);
- Addresses do not match voter registration records (approx. 160);
- Invalid dates (approx. 40);
- Individuals signed petitions previously submitted for the same office (approx. 30);
- Invalid address, including P.O. Boxes in first-class municipalities;
- Individuals signed Petition more than once.
- Circulators signing their own sheets.
- Individual deficiencies are itemized on the spreadsheet submitted to the Secretary with this affidavit.
- According to my best count, of the 2,646 signatures submitted in person to the Secretary on March 25, 2014, in support of the Petition, 997 are invalid, leaving 1,649 valid signatures.
- According to my best count, of the 2,868 signatures submitted in total in support of the Petition, including the signatures received on March 26, 2014, by registered mail by the Secretary, 1,154 are invalid, leaving 1,714 valid signatures.
- Finally, the Petition nominates one Annette Bosworth, M.D., as a Republican candidate for United States Senate. As of April 1, 2014, the Secretary of State's voter registration records, as accessible to the public via the online Voter Information Portal on the Secretary's website, show no person named Annette Bosworth registered as a Republican in the state of South Dakota. The entire Petition, all 227 sheets, is thus invalid.
- I thus believe that the nominating petition of Annette Bosworth fails to qualify Annette Bosworth as a U.S. Senate candidate to appear on the ballot for the Republican Primary election scheduled for June 3, 2014.
- With deep respect for the office of the Secretary of State and the laws of South Dakota, I hereby request that the Secretary take the following actions:
- Disqualify all deficient signatures itemized in the attached documentation and any other deficient signatures that the Secretary's scrutiny of the Petition may uncover;
- Decertify the Petition;
- Decline to place Annette Bosworth's name on the Republican Primary ballot;
- Forward this affidavit and the Petition to the South Dakota Attorney General and the United States Attorney for the District of South Dakota and request that those officials investigate the evidence outlined in Points 3, 4, and 5 herein for possible violations of state and federal law pertaining to elections and the integrity of the notary seal.
Dated this 1st day of April, 2014
Cory Allen Heidelberger, Affiant
Interested citizens may review the Bosworth petition itself by clicking this link.