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Stephanie Strong Fails to Make GOP Ballot Against Noem

I want to give Stephanie Strong credit: she managed to get 2,018 signatures on her nominating petitions for U.S. House. That takes some legwork.

Unfortunately, she botched the job. Even with the free media exposure of Gordon Howie's gargantuan media empire, Strong had to advertise for petition circulators. She may have paid people money to do the job right, and still she got it wrong. She needed 1,955 signatures; by submitting 2,018, she allowed herself just 3% padding. That's not nearly enough. Gant threw out 112 signatures, leaving Strong 2.5% short.

Strong apparently submitted her petitions with a bunch of names that didn't include the county, date, or town. If Strong had been paying attention, she could have written in that information herself: once a voter places her signature on the petition, the circulator can print the other information in the blanks.

Secretary of State Jason Gant rejected a number of signatures for including P.O. boxes instead of physical addresses. If you live in a "first-class municipality" (population 5000 or greater), you need to write in a physical address. That's a technicality, but it's a technicality that the Secretary of State makes clear in the handy nominating petition circulation guide, which hardly taxes the intelligence and diligence we would expect of someone trying to convince us she's qualified to serve in Congress.

No word yet from Noem's other declared challenger, Sturgis writer and veteran Bill Cissell. And Plankinton's Linda Heath apparently needs more time to get on the ballot: she's decided to run as an Independent and gather signatures until June 5.


  1. mike 2012.03.28

    do you think gant checked noems petition signatures as closely as he checked strongs?

    I bet they are high fiving each other for getting noem's opponent off.

  2. larry kurtz 2012.03.28

    Really quiet at the RCJ this morning. News that a $500,000 bankruptcy bonus for the Lee CEO is rippling through the twitterverse.

  3. larry kurtz 2012.03.28

    Many simultaneous layoffs at Montana Lee papers .

  4. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    We have 5 days to appeal on this. Now, the handy nominating petition circulating guide does not explain the law that states that if you allow some folks to use a po box, it would be the same across the board. We have to take into consideration where people live, are they in transition? are they living with relatives? are they homeless? So when we fill out the paperwork and don't have a residence what information do we clarify so that folks that are in this situation are able to be counted. Any help would be appreciated.
    Stephanie Strong

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    Hi, Stephanie! Let's make sure we're looking at the same document: the guide to which I link explains the P.O. Box/first-class-muni rule in the lower right corner of the second sheet.

    You identify a valid problem, Stephanie: folks who are in transition may have difficulty participating in the petition process. My wife and I are in a sort of transition phase, too: we just moved to Spearfish last August (it seems like yesterday!), but we still own property in Lake County and will likely spend the summer there. We get our mail here in Spearfish, but we have not changed our voter registration yet to Lawrence County. I checked with Lake County Auditor Bobbi Janke, and she said that my wife and I should put the address that appears on our voter registration card, our Lake County physical address, not our Lawrence County mailing address.

    The same rule should apply to your folks in transition. If they are indeed registered voters, they should enter the address that appears on their voter registration card, even if that is not their physical residence at the moment. If those folks can't provide a physical address to match their voter registration, you may just have to skip placing their signatures on your petition.

    Remember, I'm just a Democrat, so must of your friends will tell you I don't know election law or my head from a hole in the ground. But if I can help any citizen better understand election law, I'm happy to help.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    By the way, the appeal may work: It sounds like some of the signatures are just flat invalid, but maybe you can argue the transition issue. Technically, Sec. Gant is likely correct, but you can try to appeal to SDCL 12-6-64.

  7. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    Bless you caheidelberger for the SDCL 12-6-64 for the technicality as we are dealing with the homeless issues when someone stays with someone one night, then someone the next night or week then a motel. So when we ask for the signature--what do we ask to make it count? Can we use the PO Box? Do I want them to use my address? They might think they are moving in? ha ha! What address is acceptable and what questions do we ask to get to the answer?

  8. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    taxes the intelligence and diligence we would expect of someone trying to convince us she’s qualified to serve in Congress.-- I expect we the people to question when the playing field is obviously tilted to the govermental machine in their favor

  9. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    Here's what I ask:

    1. Are you a registered voter in South Dakota?
    2. Are you registered at this address?
    3. (If No on 2) Do you recall what address you lived at when you registered?

    Now you could investigate further and try to help the person remember. Heck, if you're really fancy, you could whip out your smartphone and look up the voter on the Voter Information Portal. If the person will share full name and birthdate, you can enter that information and get the voter's registration address.

    But that's a heck of a lot of work for one signature. You have to decide if that signature is worth the effort. At that point, you might have to cut your losses and say, "I'm really glad you're willing to help, but to do this petition right, we need to make sure addresses match up with voter registration records. The election officials are really picky. Thank you!"

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    No money required; that 7928 is the number of signatures.

    Indy sig reqs: SDCL 12-7-1.

    Dem/GOP sig reqs: SDCL 12-6-7.

    New party sig reqs: SDCL 12-5-1.

    (By the way, dear readers, this is all free legal advice, but don't forget: I have a tip jar up at the top! :-) )

  11. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    Strong apparently submitted her petitions with a bunch of names that didn’t include the county, date, or town---not so, I chased voters down night and day at the civic center and the home show, businesses, and houses. Have you tryed tried to get signatures? Unbeliveable!!!! We need to have a huge event to feed these people and get the exact information that we need to get on the petitions when someone does not have a home or doesn't so we can fill out the correct information so everyone is happy!

  12. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    No money required; that 7928 is the number of signatures. that is a subliminal error

    Indy sig reqs: SDCL 12-7-1.

    Dem/GOP sig reqs: SDCL 12-6-7.

    New party sig reqs: SDCL 12-5-1.

    (By the way, dear readers, this is all free legal advice, but don’t forget: I have a tip jar up at the top! :-) )

    What does our Declaration of Independence and Constitution say? Who is qualified to vote and how? We need to go back to the basics here and see what our Founding Fathers intended and forget what the State Committe comes up with if it is Constitutional. We need to speak up when voter rights are being discriminated against because of their address

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    Yes, I've collected over 120 signatures for the HB 1234 referral drive. Every signature has a printed name, physical address, city, date, and county with it, entered either by the signer or by me immediately after the signer signs.

    And be careful: offering food to signers could be illegal.

  14. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.28

    3. (If No on 2) Do you recall what address you lived at when you registered? Who thinks of this stuff, many times, this is where you were registered to vote when you turned 18 and never changed it. I talked to the Auditors office and there is nothing they can do about it or the post office to change their address when they first registered to vote. I do not have a clue where I first registered to vote.

  15. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    Whoa, horse! Stay focused! The Secretary of State's office is no place for Tea Party speechifying. Filing these petitions is about crossing the T's, jotting the tittles, and getting on the ballot. You have limited resources. If you think you can get the signatures necessary to make the ballot, go to it. If you think you can mount a successful court challenge to the physical address requirement for first-class municipality registered voters, go to it. But you likely just barely have the resources to do just one of those things. Time to pick.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.28

    Until the law changes, that's the complication we have to deal with. I changed my address at the Lake County Courthouse; updating address can be done, and the auditor's office has an interest in doing so to ensure it has the right information for every voter.

  17. Troy Jones 2012.03.29

    If you want to be my Congressional Representative, is it really too much to read the law and follow the instructions?

    One of the basics is the rule of law. In fact, as you can see by Cory's understanding and adherence, it is a common value. The law matters.

    I do not want the Secretary of State to have any discretion on an election matter, whether the office held by my best friend or worst enemy, because it opens up charges of preferential treatment.

    Our society and body politic depends on confidence the elections are fair. This is bigger than any one candidate, issue or election. We cease to be a democracy when we lose trust in our elections.

  18. LK 2012.03.29


    Do I get to quote you on this line: "We cease to be a democracy when we lose trust in our elections." the next time one of your Republican brothers or sisters uses the "We're a republic not a democracy" line? : )

  19. Troy Jones 2012.03.29


    LOL. Can I amend my line to say: "We cease to be a republican democracy when we lose our trust in our elections."

    But seriously, we are both a Republic where the representatives are chosen via a democratic election. Both principles must be safeguarded.

    Here is what I fear: interpretation of eligible signatures becomes discretionary as well as the validity of the petition itself leading to greater potential of the losers to claim "election fraud." I feel strongly this is an example where the letter of the law serves the larger purpose and discretion or "spirit of the law" interpretations are counter to the interests of the larger purpose- fair elections.

    I hold this position without regard to who it affects or their party affiliation. You can quote me on this too. :)

  20. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.29

    I agree: the Secretary of State should act in strict accordance with the law, rather tahn legislating in his own mind how petitions should be filled out.

  21. TCMack 2012.03.29

    I kinda wish I was going home this weekend. Thanks for pointing that out. It should be interesting how that meeting goes...

  22. Stephanie Strong 2012.03.29

    2018 Signatures done! Gordon Howie-yeah he is trying to make a difference. 3% signatures are invalid; so are we only at 3% voters that are disenfranchised? Are the disenfranchised voters registered? If they show up to vote with a valid id, will they get to vote? Or since their name was kicked off of the petition, are they are now disfranchised. If the address that the voter registered at 18 is the one that is valid because they have not switched it, how many people can remember their address when they registered to vote? I want to know how Barack Obama got on the South Dakota ballot without submitting the proper paperwork and nobody questions that. I am short 49 signatures and they are still Republican signatures, Republicans who don't take government assistance, but make their own way and are not recognized because they do not have a physical street address. Are you kidding me? While our President cannot even prove that he is an American, something needs to change and we all should speak out as our elected representatives will not.
    While I may not be able to correct my petition to suit the State, I will not stop perusing the injustice that is happening. My voice will continue, I may get my name on the ballot. Either way, these people will be tired of hearing from me

  23. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.03.29

    Again, whoa, horse! Stephanie, you need to pick your arguments. Your petition has nothing to do with President Barack Obama's legitimate, documented American citizenship. President Obama has made public more evidence proving his citizenship than anyone who signed your petitions or than you yourself. If you doubt the President's citizenship, then you must doubt the citizenship of all of your signers.

    Having a signature rejected from a petition does not revoke a voter's registration. If I sign a petition but don't fill in the other info, and if the circulator doesn't pay attention to the rules and fill that information, that has no effect on my voter registration status.

    And what does taking government assistance have to do with the validity of a voter's signature? How many of your signers attended public school? That's government assistance. How many have been assisted by police or firemen? That's government assistance. How many have been on food stamps or have kids who get free or reduced-price lunches at school? That's government assistance.

    When we reach out to help people, we do not make them less American; we make them more American.

  24. larry kurtz 2012.03.30

    Yikes. Oh, well: the enemy of my enemy is my matter from which planet her campaign originates.

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