The Rapid City Journal picks up on our Madville Times conversation and advocates for more time for citizens to review and challenge petitions:
...the election calendar should allow more time for possible court challenges to nominating petitions for party primaries. The 45-day window for absentee balloting should not be shortened, so the best option is to move up the date when signatures can be collected and the date when they are due to be filed. That lengthens what is already a long election cycle, but the extra time would allow for legal challenges to petitions. As it stands now, the secretary of state is the only judge of the validity of petitions with a very short time frame to examine signatures.
The state Legislature should change the dates for beginning signature collection and turning in nominating petitions so there is sufficient time for legal challenges [editorial, "Election Calendar Too Short," Rapid City Journal, 2014.04.27].
Shantel Krebs, who would like to be our next Secretary of State, told that Sioux Falls paper that she also supports shifting the petition-gathering period back a month to expand the petition-review period. Deputy SOS Pat Miller, who is seeking promotion to full-bird SOS, says she's open to that idea as well.
Oddly, all of these commentators ignore the valid option proposed by Lanny Stricherz on this blog: instead of expanding the election calendar, shrink it! Release petitions for circulation after the Legislature adjourns, set the petition submission deadline at the end of May, and hold our primaries in late summer, maybe even right after the State Fair. That would give candidates more time to consider joining the race, better weather in which to walk around circulating, and perhaps less time they'd have to spend fundraising and campaigning. It would reduce voter fatigue, keeping primary and general election closer and reducing the time we'd expect to see campaign ads cluttering up the KELO news. And that shortened calendar would still leave us more time, nearly two months compared to the current week, to review and challenge petitions.
Whatever reform the candidates and our legislators consider, the folks who helped me challenge Annette Bosworth's invalid petition deserve a little shout-out. You folks, as well as Rep. Steve Hickey with his attempted lawsuit, may not have achieved the goal of removing Bosworth's illegitimate name from the ballot. But you have sparked an important conversation about our election process among candidates and in the press. Keep that conversation going: talk to your local press and legislative candidates, and see what they think about reforming the election calendar to better protect the integrity of the petition process, the ballot, and our elections.
And while you're at it, ask those candidates how they feel about posting petitions online for free so that all citizens may more easily check petitions.