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House Bill 1018 Adds Gosch Clause to Prohibit Candidates’ Notarizing Own Petitions

Rep. Brian Gosch will likely become Speaker of the South Dakota House today. I remain convinced that he gained his office illegally by notarizing his own nominating petitions last winter. Former Secretary of State Chris Nelson agreed last summer that candidates should not notarize their own petitions. Current Secretary of State Jason Gant has whimpered that he doesn't know what the law says on the issue of self-notarization and wants clarification to the law.

Gant and the State Board of Elections have thus proposed House Bill 1018. Along with many minor revisions to election law (he and him get changed to gender-neutral phrases), Section 3 of HB 1018 adds the Gosch Clause:

The verification by the person circulating the petition may not be notarized by the candidate whom the petition is nominating.

Notary law already makes this prohibition clear, since notaries are not supposed to fix their seals to any documents to which they are principal parties. But since Secretary Gant has trouble reading, we need to spell it out for him with the Gosch Clause.

I look forward to hearing the debate on this bill... and I look forward to seeing whether Speaker Gosch votes to declare his own notary behavior inappropriate.


  1. Michael Black 2013.01.08

    This is just another example of a bill that we don't need. If our Sec of State would apply the law that is already there then we would not need a bill to "clarify" the issue.

    Concentrate on the budget first then you can deal with secondary issues.

  2. Donald Pay 2013.01.08

    Another part of the bill would ban bribes for signing a petition. I have no problems with that, though I don't think it's ever been a problem. But what about the actual real problem of people being threatened or bribed NOT to sign petitions.

  3. Ken Santema 2013.01.08

    Bills like this just irritate the heck out of me. It's unnecessary. As you state in the post it is already prohibited for notaries to self-notarize (even if it wasn't illegal it would still be considered unethical). They are doing a legislative fix due to a failure from the executive branch. Adding more code to SD law isn't going to fix the root cause of this particular issue.

  4. PlanningStudent 2013.01.08


    It has been a problem, a bar owner was trading beer and drinks for signatures in Brookings this year.

  5. grudznick 2013.01.08

    Maybe we need a state secretary that does the job that needs being done instead of self-promoting. Maybe we need a solid state secretary. A cowboy. Jarrod Johnson, when he ends his term as Lands Commissioner could easily step in and then Mr. Nelson could run for Lands Commissioner. Those people are solid conservatives and are people who get things done.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.09

    Indeed, both of those main provisions, the self-notarization ban and the petition bribery clauses, seem redundant. But alas, since our Secretary of State isn't smart enough to do his job, he needs everything spelled out two or three times to tell him what to do. Thank you, Secretary Gant, for cluttering our law books with your Post-It notes.

  7. Douglas Wiken 2013.01.09

    If Republican retrogressive obstructionists think women considering an abortion should get a whole lot of information they don't want plus a sonogram plus a vaginal inspection, and requiring doctors to do all this, they might think about Notaries being required to provide a form to those using their services indicating the actual function of notaries, the limitations of their services, and the restrictions on them.

  8. caheidelberger Post author | 2013.01.10

    Douglas, Brian Gosch and his fellow leaders likely find our commitment to logical consistency quite bothersome.

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