The failed challenge to the Spellerberg pool vote in Sioux Falls offers some useful statements about the sanctity of the electoral process. Evidently everybody missed the fact that the municipal ballot measure had a typo, listing the pool build deadline as December 15 instead of December 31, 2015. Citizens represented by attorney Joel Arends went to court yesterday asking the city to either stop today's election or rush-print new ballots with the correct date. Judge Susan Sabers said the typo is an immaterial error in ballot text not required by law. The incorrect ballots remain in effect, and the public vote goes on.
Arends says the court got it wrong and has weakened the integrity of the election process statewide:
Arends says the government has to be held to a higher standard, especially when an election is on the line.
“We are opening a Pandora's Box in this state. What we're saying is, excusable neglect will be allowed to serve as an excuse for changing the dates on petitions and ballots,” said Arends [Jeff Rusack, "Pool Group Ballot Challenge Denied by Court," KDLT, 2014.04.07].
But reprinting ballots and/or rescheduling an election costs money, doesn't it? Did Arends and his clients really want to cost the city $60,000 to reschedule the election?
"The inconvenience to the city pales in comparison to the inconvenience of the integrity of our elections," Arends said [Ben Dunsmoor, "Judge Denies Outdoor Pool Legal Action," KELO TV, 2014.04.07].
Arends says that, even in failure, his group's challenge represents a valuable part of democracy:
Attorney Joel Arends, who represented Save Spellerberg, says Monday's proceeding is the perfect example of the right people have to challenge any wrong-doings they may notice.
...He also points out that the voters deserve perfection when it comes to elections, even when dealing with a typographical error.
"I think the City of Sioux Falls is on notice now that people aren't just going to take these things lying down. They're going to take to the courts, they're going to take to the media and say 'Look folks, we expect more,'" Arends said [Jared Ransom, "Spellerberg Court Ruling Favors City of Sioux Falls," KELO TV, 2014.04.07].
Arends is absolutely right. Voters deserve perfection when it comes to all aspects of the electoral process, from signing petitions to watchdogging the use of campaign funds to counting every vote. Citizens who challenge errors and violations on petitions and ballots are true patriots, fighting for the integrity of the law and democracy.