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Aberdeen Paper Concedes Headline on Gant and Elliott Incomplete

Last updated on 2014.10.31

Legislator-in-waiting Lee Schoenbeck gets to shout "Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!" in my ear all night.

On Sunday, the Aberdeen American News ran an article headlined, "Secretary of State: Elliott Residency Valid." Elisa Sand's article said that Secretary of State Jason Gant found no violation in Democrat Burt Elliott's use of an Aberdeen address for his voter registration and District 3 House nominating petition. Republicans hollered that that headline was misleading; I defended the headline.

Mr. Schoenbeck, who is keenly interested in keeping Elliott from taking a seat in his House, sends me a link to this correction from the Aberdeen American News:

Headline wrong: South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant said District 3 House candidate Burt Elliott’s election petition met all requirements for Elliott to run in the district. The headline suggested Gant could determine the validity of Elliott’s residency, when it should have referred to his petition.

We regret the error ["Setting It Straight," Aberdeen American News, 2014.10.29].

As I said in an e-mail to Mr. Schoenbeck, Arrgghh!

I think the Aberdeen paper caved too easily... but the Aberdeen paper has called it, and I cede the point. The headline should have read, "Secretary of State: Elliott Residency Valid for Nominating Petition."

My friend Elisa Sand should now follow up with an in-depth analysis of the Schoenbeck argument, the Heinemeyer precedent, and the implications for South Dakota's thousands of RV voters.


  1. Bob Klein 2014.10.30

    Do I have to go back and attempt to figure out the implications of this correction on Mr. Elliott's candidacy? Or will you tell us?

  2. grudznick 2014.10.30

    I don't understand what you are telling us. Does this mean that this Mr. Elliott fellow is rightly seated or will Mr. Schoenbeck be able to oust him with some sort of legislative maneuvering?

  3. lee schoenbeck 2014.10.30

    The answer is, that if he wins, he is not eligible to be seated.

    But, Cory, if some smart person came up with an answer, the RV issue should be addressed

  4. Jana 2014.10.30

    I'm sure if it was shown they all voted Democratic that there would be plenty of smart people to change that law.

  5. Dr 2014.10.30

    Cory: his nominating petition is for DIST 3 not 2. He should be running in 2 not 3. Clear as mud?

  6. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    I wonder if there is a common thread or loophole that links Elliot's issue with the mysterious RV voters. Is it possible that Mr. Schoenbeck would feel better about Elliot's claim of residency if Elliot actually owned the District 3 property instead of just renting it?

    Is that it, Lee? Property ownership?

    Or does one get to be a SD citizen complete with driver's license, hunting and fishing license, and voting rights just by driving through our state, renting campground space, and getting mail at an SD Post Office Box with the right Zipcode? Because if having SD residency is that easy, maybe all Elliot has to do is buy a little patch of ground in District 2, put a mailbox on it, and start having his mail delivered there.

    Heck, maybe he could even hire a guy and give him power of attorney to sort his junk mail out and apply for his absentee ballot during election season.

    Sounds like it's easier to be a SD citizen by being a tax-dodging tourist from out of state than it is owning a family farm in the SD countryside and renting a house a mile or so away so you can do business in your own hometown.

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    I'm sorry, Elliot needs to buy a patch of ground in District 3 not 2 and put his mailbox on it. It's easy to get those two mixed up. Especially on the west and southwestern boundaries of D-3. Have you looked at that thing on the map, Cory? How come it's so straight on the east side and so crinkled up on the west?

  8. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    Weird isn't it? You could actually have a voting district in SD with a majority voting population that all live out of state voting for a candidate that none of the locals either know, like trust, or are willing to vote for.

    Sounds like something like that may already have happened once to Robin Page in district 33 in 2012. Let's hope it doesn't happen again. But it could. Especially if a big chunk of District 33 absentee GOP voters have no idea who Phil Jensen is and why a whole lot of Republicans on the ground in that district actually want to throw the guy out.

    Wouldn't it be a shame if the local Rs couldn't get rid of a guy they don't like even by voting for a Democrat just because a while bunch of RV out if state overs cancelled them out?

  9. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    Above...'out of state voters' ... Sorry.

  10. mike from iowa 2014.10.31

    Mr Schoenbeck,why consider what a smart person has to say now? From perusing South Dakota laws and regulations I can see many instances where a trained monkey could have done a much better job. And for less than $120 a day per diem.

  11. Travis 2014.10.31

    It's interesting that Mr. Schoenbeck is so concerned about honesty in Mr. Elliott's and the newspaper situation but isn't in his organization's (Codington County Republicans, $2650) misleading attack ads against Kathy Tyler.

    Mr. Schoenbeck, why is it so important for Dems to be honest, but not Republicans?

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Sorry, DR, typo on my part. I have corrected the District number in the original post.

  13. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.10.31

    Bill makes a really good point about the flip side of the residency/RV question. The ability of out-state voters to colonize a mailbox and influence our elections is arguably more nefarious than Elliott's now well-documented and well-publicized effort to win the opportunity to represent the people of District 3 in Pierre. What fraud is Elliott committing? What lie is Elliott telling? People know where he lives as well as they know where any of their current legislators live. They know what he stands for. According to Secretary Gant, he has complied with the law in registering to vote and filing his nominating petition. And frankly, if the logical conclusion of the Heinemeyer case is to disenfranchise RV voters completely, I suspect Heinemyer may be overturned as unconstitutional.

    Thinking along Bill's lines, if RV voters gave Phil Jensen the one-vote edge he needs to retain his Senate seat, could the Senate vote not to seat him on the same logic that Schoenbeck is using to threaten District 3 voters with disenfranchisment? And if we reach that point, aren't we undermining the entire democratic system and making the Legislature its own self-perpetuating dictatorship?

    Wait a minute—Lee, another question leaps to mind. The House, you say, has ultimate authority in deciding which members to seat. But they can't cast their seating votes until they are all seated, can they? Would Burt Elliott get to vote on his own seating?

  14. Rod Hall 2014.10.31

    I do not believe Rep. Rodney Gutzler (R Salem) was allowed to vote on his seating. Just about every repub in the House cast a vote to ignore his lack of a constitutional requirement of a two year residency.

  15. Bill Fleming 2014.10.31

    I think it would be interesting to see how many RV voters cast their vote for Phil Jensen in the GOP primary. He just barely squeaked by as we all know. Maybe somebody should go to the County Auditors office and ask them is the actual physical residence and identity of the absentee mailbox voters has been verified, and whether or not they actually own any property in District 33. Maybe they could also check to see who it was who actually requested the absentee ballot forms, and whether or not a whole group of them all came in all at once.

  16. Jana 2014.10.31

    If it turns out that Mike Rounds is complicit in the GOED/EB-5/Northern Beef scandal...can the Senate not seat him if he is elected?

    Vote Weiland and send an honest man to represent us in the Senate!

  17. leslie 2014.10.31

    lee s. is just doing what every insider SDGOPer does, follows the plan to decimate democratic leaders. honesty is not a consideration in their abusive process

  18. leslie 2014.10.31

    i would guess after extensive, expensive litigation, RV citizenship would likely be shown to be much like the GOED mismanagement of EB5 ect.

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