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Saturday, June 5, 2010

St. Pierre Pushing Petitions... and New Filing Advice

As reported earlier this week, Mark St. Pierre is still pushing to get the 3356 petition signatures necessary to place his name on the ballot as an Independent to challenge Senator John Thune. The campaign reports a current signature count of roughly 2000, with more likely floating around.

The filing deadline is 5 p.m. Tuesday. We've seen two petition drives this year (Weiland for House and Howie for Secession) round up more signatures than St. Pierre needs in a long weekend.

However, the St. Pierre campaign reports receiving some advice from the Secretary of State's office that differs from the understanding of state law under which we Weiland petitioners operated back at the end of March. SDCL 12-6-8 states, among other things, the following:

A formal declaration of the candidate shall be signed by him prior to the circulation of petitions. The signed declaration of the candidate, or a facsimile thereof, may accompany and be a part of the petition. The original signed declaration shall accompany the group of petitions upon filing.

We Weiland warriors (as well as, I think, the Howie hogwashers) understood that to mean that we could circulate photocopies or digitally-scanned versions of the original petition signed by the candidate, we could fill those copies with voter signatures and get them notarized, but we couldn't send those petitions straight to the Secretary of State's office ourselves. We had to send those petitions to Weiland or his campaign operatives who had the original petitions. Then Weiland et al. would file those originals and photocopies together to comply with SDCL 12-6-8.

But St. Pierre's people say Secretary Nelson's office has advised them otherwise. They say someone in Pierre (not Chris, not Kea... maybe Teresa?) has said circulators may send their facsimile petitions separately. If the office receives a facsimile petition without an accompanying original, the office will either slide that facsimile into the file containing the already filed original. If the original hasn't arrived in the office yet, the office will set the petition aside until the original does arrive, at which point the office will file those documents together.

If I were St. Pierre's people, I'd still be looking for a way to gather all those petitions in one big box and deliver them personally (not to mention doing a count and quality control check before delivery). But if the Secretary of State's office says you can file facsimile petitions separate from their originals, then that must be acceptable... right?

For some reason, I'm still queasy. Any readers able to confirm the above interpretation? I may need to make a call myself Monday morning....

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