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RCJ, Krebs Say Extend Election Calendar to Allow More Thorough Petition Review

Last updated on 2015.01.12

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.


  1. Jaka 2014.04.29

    Just a question I have: All this money chasing political positions---what happens to leftover, unspent moneys in a candidate's war-chest??????!!!! Could this be why so many
    wannabe politicos go for the golden rings??? Rounds and Bosworth both come to mind for some reason...........

  2. Nick Nemec 2014.04.29

    Interesting Jaka. I know at one time that money reverted back to the candidate, I don't know if laws have changed. In the case of Bosworth and Rounds Federal law would dictate since they are running for a Federal office.

    To Cory's original post, backing up the primary is a valid option and an answer to many peoples complaints that US elections drag on for too long. There are states that hold primary elections as late as September.

  3. El Rayo X 2014.04.29

    The last I heard, Sen. Tim Johnson has over a million dollars in his re-election account. Jaka, Nick, you might ask him what his plans are for that pile of leftovers. I haven't seen a rush to endorse Rick Weiland's campaign with it though, maybe after June when the ballot is finalized we'll see the rain come down. But given Weiland's call to reject big money, would he even accept it?

  4. Troy 2014.04.29


    I learned a long time ago in politics that one should never expand political capital/effort to achieve a goal where you open a hornet's nest when there is an more direct approach. Assuming your primary goal is to better allow petitions to be challenged, your approach is virtually difficult making your goal unachievable via moving the primary back. Reasons:

    1) Presidential primaries. There is more political will to move up the primary than moving it back because by June most Presidential nominations are virtually decided.

    2) National Party Convention logistics. Divvying up the convention slots after June might cause problems for working people to be delegates as they have to make arrangements with their employer.

    3) Voter participation. See #1. Primary participation increases during Presidential years, even if the decision is made. Move it back until after Labor Day, we will select Convention Delegates at party conventions which will disenfranchise most South Dakotans from even having a voice on the nominee, even if it is a protest vote (assuming the nomination is locked up by our primary vote).

    4) Opportunity for challengers. If you don't have nominees selected until late in the year, challengers in primaries don't have time to concentrate on the general election (raise money and organize). If the Democrats like their deep minority status, try to win some elections with a short cycle while the better known, better financed, and often the incumbent get to use the summer in ways the challenger can't.

    5) Challenging petitions is "inside baseball" which doesn't get the imagination of the average voter. To be successful, you shouldn't take on the above issues but instead concentrate on what is proposed by Krebs, et. al.

  5. PlanningStudent 2014.04.29

    left over money can go to the party or other candidates without many restrictions. A candidate can personally take the money but will have to declare it and pay taxes. For example: Janklow did just that several months before he left us.

  6. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.29

    When I read this Journal editorial the other day, I was impressed that they picked up an issue from a liberal blog and pretty much agreed with his position.
    It also impressed me that Cory and his Madvillians that helped sort through Bosworth's questionable petition have proven that citizen advocacy can and does work.
    Naturally Republicans will oppose any changes to a system that works in their favor, what this challenge has done is to show it can be done.
    Regardless of the results, Madville's petition challenge and Rev. Hickey's legal challenge, have opened the door to future petition challenges, and you can guarantee there will be the next election cycle.
    The SOS needs to be prepared, obviously the short window allowed for challenges isn't adequate.
    Rather than hear arguments about why this archaic system won't work, it is better for South Dakotans to hear what will work.

  7. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.29

    Isn't the national Republican party talking about moving their convention earlier in the year? June perhaps?

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.29

    I heard it was because they didn't want a repeat of their 2012 debate debacle. Too many Republicans saying too many dumb things. No "message discipline" that Republicans love. They are, after all, the Party of Discipline!

  9. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.29

    Troy, (I am presumiing Jones), We have missed your astute observations. Okay, at least I have. But you apparently did not read my post to which Cory refers. Our few votes in Presidential primaries mean absolutely nothing early in the race. The only time that they might is if it were close near the end of the primary season and our few votes could make a difference. We might then be swarmed on by the candidates. If memory serves, the last Republican candidate to grace our State's borders was George H W Bush in 1988 and Bill Clinton was the last Dem candidate to do so and his visit was post primary, just prior to the election. Whoops I forgot Hillary did as well in 2008.

    If we want to reform politics, we need to get money out of it, as the determining factor. The only way to get money out of it is to shorten the time to politic. The only way to do that is to shorten the nominating season. The only way to do that is to follow through on the suggestions that Cory has made above.

  10. Nick Nemec 2014.04.29

    The Presidential primary and the other primaries could be separated. Keep Presidential where it is and move all the other primaries later in the year.

  11. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.29

    Nick, I think there are 2 factors keeping the primaries together:
    1. Costs for 2 primaries.
    2. Getting voters to the polls.

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.04.29

    Troy, I appreciate that realistic assessment. But how often will the South Dakota presidential primary matter enough to drive turnout?

    Deb, I would pause at the cost of two primaries. Curious: if the state moved the primary to August under Lanny's plan, would the parties consider holding caucuses?

  13. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.29

    I don't support caucuses. They're even more limited in terms of participants than primaries. MN has held caucuses for decades, and is in the process of phasing them out. One of the tools that seems to be effective and favored by the electorate is ranked choice voting. Mpls and StP are using it and other local governments are considering it.

  14. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.30

    I agree with you Deb. I consider the Iowa Presidential caucuses, as the first in the nation toward influencing the eventual Presidential candidates, to be the biggest farce to democracy that we have in this country. Having worked for a candidate there (unpaid and spending my time and money to do so,) it was so disappointing that house after house in a poor neighborhood, we were told that they would support our candidate, but then said, oh I can't get to the caucus, I have to work.

  15. Troy 2014.04.30


    I get that as a small state our impact is proportional (not significant) but they are still our expression of our will and done in a time frame where they mean at least a proportional statement. To move our election past the convention, doesn't even allow that.


    I'm not sure there is any political will to have a separation (and added expense). In fact, there is movement to combine school, local, state and national elections for two reasons: turnout and cost.


    I don't think turnout is just about having a chance to change the result. It is about expressing yourself in a timely manner on issues you care about. And, if election turnout is any indication, most people most care about the Presidential race.

    Deb, I agree moving to caucuses diminishes participation. It works well for the Constitutional office just because the cost of primaries for these races would allow only the best known to win. Delegating nominees for these office to activists who can meet them face to face as surrogate for the public is reasonable to me.

    All: As Democrats, do you really believe Weiland would be served by having three more months where the attention goes to the GOP candidates? Or, that Lowe/Wismer are served by losing three months to prepare to run against an incumbent Governor?

    If I were solely looking at this from a partisan point of view and not considering the impact on democracy, I'd be all for your plan. So, in reality, I'm not going to save you from yourself.

    Bottomline: I don't see the will to change the primary and if there is any it would be to move it up (Presidential election driven). The opportunity to contest petitions though is good for democracy. Let's get that done in unity.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.04.30

    I agree completely that a presidential primary held after convention is silly. But here we are trapped by a monster of someone else's making, the absurdly protracted Presidential campaign. How about a national Presidential primary on the first Tuesday in June... or maybe even July 15?

    Troy, from a purely partisan perspective, I think Weiland would benefit immensely from having Rounds, Nelson, et al. slug it out for another three months while he tours the state untouched. Similarly, Lowe and Wismer might suffer from prolonging their battle instead of being able to focus on Daugaard (who himself would have to spend more time thumb-wrestling with Hubbel). But primaries will create such disadvantages whenever they happen. Under the Lanny plan, sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. The partisan considerations aren't really a voting issue on this policy change.

  17. Troy 2014.04.30

    I agree partisan shouldn't enter into the discussion. My view isn't influenced by partisan as I think it is adverse to the GOP most years.

    Primaries for open seats in my mind is good for that party. Slugfests so seldom are terminal that the increased attention is of greater benefit. Weiland needs to primary to end because so far he is a bit player in the election.

  18. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.30

    What would be so difficult in giving petition challenge 10 days and moving up the printing of ballots and early voting a few days?
    Early voting could simply start a few days later.
    And like Cory, petitions needs to be put of line by the SOS in an adequate amount of time.

  19. Troy 2014.04.30


    That is my solution. Adding to the petition period and shortening early voting (which gives more time to print ballots). Do we really need to have 6 weeks early voting? Personally, I know of nobody who can't find time 2 weeks before the election to get to the courthouse to vote.

  20. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.30

    Troy, I am not necessarily disagreeing with you, but the Republican SOS and SOS candidates say that we need the longer time to allow our overseas troops to vote.

  21. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.30


    I believe Gant implemented a program using the Vote American money to allow the military to vote easier.

  22. Nick Nemec 2014.04.30

    Troy, why is the Republican answer always to reduce access to the ballot?

  23. Troy 2014.04.30


    I don't want to reduce access beyond anything reasonable. Why don't we start early voting in January then? Give people six months.

    The requirement for petitions is in the law and the right to challenge them seems fundamental as well.

    There are trade-offs. I want challengers to have a fair time to challenge. That is it. And, I'm not sure the system is served by moving the petition submission significantly earlier to allow late decisions on legislative races (this is actually better again for Dems since they seem to have the most late filers).

    Except for Roger's comment about the military, dropping down the time for early voting from six weeks seems like a good reasonable place to get vs. making candidates having to get their petitions in earlier. But, again, I'm not going to save the Dems from themselves.

  24. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.04.30

    Troy, As I said yesterday, I have missed your astute observations, but I think you better go sit in the corner and review your posts. For the first time I cannot follow your line of thinking other than that you are belittling the Democrats.

  25. Nick Nemec 2014.04.30

    What the hell are you talking about, "saving Dems from themselves"? Six weeks is a reasonable time period. If someone has to request an absentee ballot through the mail, wait for it, vote, get it notarized, and mail it back, six weeks is reasonable. If you accidentally spoil the ballot and request a new one it might not be enough time.

    Stealing time from early voting, something many people do, to give more time for petition challenges, something rarely done, is an unreasonable solution to a problem that might not even be that big of a problem. If elected officials were to do their jobs it wouldn't even be a problem.

  26. Nick Nemec 2014.04.30

    My second paragraph might not be clear. Try this. "Stealing from time allowed for early voting, and many people early vote, to give more time for petition challenges, something rarely done, is an unreasonable solution to a problem that might not even be that big of a problem."

  27. Roger Cornelius 2014.04.30


    You and I were on the same page in building a consensus to this problem, and for no reason you just had to make it a partisan issue. Why did you do that?

  28. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.04.30

    6 weeks for early voting seems like a long time to me too. Why not go with 2 weeks early voting, 2-3 weeks for petition challenges.

    Change to electronic registration and voting and two weeks will be Plenty!!! Just don't let Diebold have anything to do with any of it and require a hard copy trail at every stage.

    Tah-dah!! Problems solved!!

  29. Troy 2014.05.01


    I did because Nick took the shot that Republicans always want to deny access to the ballot. I'm trying to find a solution and didn't appreciate a shot.

    Part of the reason we have this short challenge period is that we have extended the voting period, didn't change the date for petition submissions. I don't blame people for taking that attack since petition challenges have historically been non-existent. Now, they seem to be more prevalent requiring us to look at whether the period is practically reasonable.

    I'm with you and Cory it is too tight. Cory's own experience gives us some perspective from someone that has gone through it. So, I want to find a solution that considers all factors and not get shot at because I'm a Republican.

  30. Lanny V Stricherz 2014.05.01

    I'm a Republican too, Troy. But because I won't take the partisan tak that the party does in restricting access, my solution is not the correct one.

  31. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.01

    Troy and I agree we should improve the existing election calendar. If military voting requires the 45-day early-voting window, then all voters should get that window, and moving that period is not an option available to us. I can live with the earlier petition period proposed by RCJ and Krebs as the most practical and passable reform. But if presidential politics weren't jerking our chain, I'd prefer the Lanny plan (that just sounds cool!), condensing the election season while still preserving the length of the petition-gathering and early-voting periods and extending the petition challenge period.

  32. Troy 2014.05.01


    :) And a good letter writer in the Argus.


    I also see you took a shot at the GOP. Not everything should be approached as partisan and the best way for that to occur is not adhominem attacks. The issue before us is how to make sure petitions conform to the law and allow legitimate challenges to be conducted in a reasonable amount of time. Fair minded people regardless of ideology can have a discussion about this without partisan shots.

  33. Jenny 2014.05.01

    I would say Nick has a pretty valid point with SD rebubs denying access to the ballot. Just take a look at MN rules versus SD rules for voting.
    For instance, Minnesotans can register to vote on election day if they've missed the deadline in mid October. There are no closed primaries, no strict voter ID regulations. MN rules are written with everyone in mind, and continually have the highest voter turnout amongst the states year after year.

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