Sioux Falls, SD (May 21, 2018) – In a filing in South Dakota Circuit Court, South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue challenged whether proponents of Initiated Measure (IM) 26 had submitted a sufficient number of valid signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot. Following the filing, Judge Patricia DeVaney entered an order restraining the Secretary of State from placing the measure on the ballot and required the Secretary of State to show cause why the order should not be absolute in a hearing scheduled for August 1 and 2, 2018. If the Judge’s order becomes permanent, IM26 will not appear before voters in the November 2018 General Election.
The primary focus of the challenge centers on the proponents’ use of petition circulators who were not South Dakota residents or who used false addresses in declaring their residency on the petitions. South Dakota law requires that circulators of petitions be residents of South Dakota. A review of the petitions submitted on IM26 revealed that some circulators either did not list a valid address or were not residents, which means the signatures they gathered should not be considered valid.
A further review of signatures submitted on the IM26 petitions revealed additional signatures that fail to qualify as valid, because the signers were not registered voters at the time they signed the petition or for other reasons that would routinely disqualify their validity. Overall, sponsors may have submitted only 8,959 valid signatures, far below the 13,871 needed to qualify this measure for the ballot.
“If the proponents of IM26 had followed South Dakota law when collecting signatures, this measure would never have qualified for the ballot,” said Sherry Kurtz-Anderson, Spokesperson for South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue.
The South Dakota Secretary of State is directed under the law to only check a random sample of signatures for validity and her process would not have uncovered every invalid signature submitted on IM26. South Dakotans Against the Deceptive Rx Ballot Issue felt the additional review of the signatures and circulators was warranted following the Secretary of State’s determination that several other ballot issues proposed for the 2018 ballot failed to have enough valid signatures to qualify. The petitions submitted on IM26 had similar problems to other measures that had insufficient valid signatures to qualify.
Affidavits included in the court filing were provided by investigators who conducted research to determine whether the circulators in question were qualified residents or used false addresses in their circulation efforts. The filing also includes an affidavit describing the process used to compare each individual signature submitted to the registered voter file.