Are you ready for the campaigns to begin this year? And no, they shouldn’t get rid of registered mail remittance.

Senate Bill 69 has been introduced by the Senate Committee on State Affairs “to revise certain provisions regarding elections and election provisions.”

One of the biggest effects this bill will have if passed is that it will move the campaign season for everyone back to Late November/Early December of 2015. That’s 2015 as this year, as it pushes the petitioning start date into the year preceding the election year.  The proposed language states in part:

Section 5. That § 12-6-8 be amended to read as follows:
12-6-8. No person may sign the nominating petition of a candidate before January first in the year in which the election is to be held December first of the year preceding the election, nor for whom the person is not entitled to vote, nor for a political candidate of a party of which the person is not a member, nor of more than the number of candidates required to be nominated for the same office.

And the petitions have to be returned to the Secretary of State the last Tuesday in February (which would be 2/23/2016).

In actuality, it’s only a shift backwards of about thirty days. But psychologically, it’s a bit more striking.

It means that candidates are going to have to decide to run this year, before they prepare themselves to head back to Pierre for the legislative session.  It means that political parties are going to be recruiting candidates for office in the run up to, and through the 2015 Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season.

It means that statewide candidates are going to miss out on collecting many signatures during the traditional late winter/early spring political dinner season, when many of them got it done. Because the first Lincoln Day Dinner will now come late in the process.

In other words, candidates are going to have to be on the ball in getting things done.

This has been a move long in coming, given the tremendously tight deadlines largely driven by federal requirements of when to have ballots completed in time for military voting. According to the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) act, the MOVE Act requires States to send absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters at least 45 days before Federal elections.

So, those ballots have to be set in stone 45 days out under federal law.

Current law didn’t really allow for any significant time for challenges or fighting over ballot qualification. Those ballots were literally required to go to the printer within a couple of weeks of being filed. The proposed changes in law would give significantly more time to allow for challenges, but the cost is pushing the active campaign 2016 season back into 2015.

Other portions of Senate Bill 69 are more debatable, such as removing the registered mail remittance and requiring that petitions be submitted in person. I’d noted earlier that removing that section in law discriminates against people in the state based on geography, and how efficient (or random) the mail is coming in from rural areas. Registered mail has a clear, and documented chain of custody. First class mail? Not so much.

I’ve been kicking around South Dakota elections since 1988. And I will tell you that the removal of the registered mail portion of the proposal needs to be absolutely stricken, because if they don’t, there will be a lawsuit.

A registered and documented manner of remittance to the Secretary of State is an absolute necessity in a state as geographically diverse (and big) as ours. Inevitably, someone is going to mail petitions in, and they’re going to get caught up in the mail, and delayed to the point where they’re not on the ballot. Why would we get rid of a requirement of a clear and documented chain of custody?

Even some pieces of registered mail were a little pokey in the last few cycles. And given cutbacks and consolidations in the US Post Office, getting rid of it is kind of a slap to the rural communities that dot our countryside. Not to mention foolhardy.

What are your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Are you ready for the campaigns to begin this year? And no, they shouldn’t get rid of registered mail remittance.”

  1. Registered v. First Class:

    1. Registered mail takes more time to transport, and thus deliver. While access is limited, there is no guarantee that it won’t be “lost”.
    2. Proof of mailing, point-to-point transport, and delivery for first class mails is faster, easier, and cheaper than registered; there is no guarantee that it won’t be “lost”

    In the end, lost registered mail v. lost first class is the same: IT IS LOST. Registered mail is typically insured, so what’s the actual value of a lost petition or ballot? A lost ballot or petition CANNOT be reconstructed out of thin air ,and thus it’s contents CANNOT be proven or counted.

    In dealing with the USPS, the effort required to investigate a registered package’s “chain of command” is infuriating. I just recently made a request to file a claim for insured mail–I was given a form to complete & mail MYSELF, or to fill it out on-line. There is NO such thing as service at the USPS.

    If speed is important, registered in NOT the way to go.

    Just one more point about registered: one has to pay “priority mail” rates for registered. Priority mail delivery is “estimated” at 2-3 days, and your receipt will state the same. When I questioned this after a registered package took 9 business days to get from SD to CA, I was told that the 2-3 days estimate was wrong because it was registered mail. I then asked why either the clerk or the receipt could not reflect this fact about registered mail–a shrug of the shoulders is all I got!

    USPS is on the way out under its own incompetency, and our rural communities must prepare for it.

    1. Did you miss the part where registered mail has a registered chain of custody? It’s registered at every point in it’s route. The US Government even allows it’s use for classified material marked as Secret.

      1. The “chain of custody” is just a listing of who has had access to the package–and even then, the USPS is sloppy…REAL sloppy about who has had access. The last time I sent a package by registered mail, upon completing the transaction, the clerk placed my registered package on the cart behind her, and moved on to the next customer–no security whatsoever.

        First class mail with a tracking number & delivery signature tells you the same thing as registered mail (and it’s faster). And when lost, you’ll be told the same thing about where the item is: THEY DON’T KNOW (and mostly don’t care)! And when you question them about a claim, they’ll tell you that your only recourse is to file a claim for the value of the item. What’s the value of a lost petition or ballot?

        My point remains: it does not matter if there is a chain of custody or not when the item is lost–for a ballot or a petition, a value cannot be assigned since it cannot be recreated. Sure, you have a “chain of custody” that may or may not be investigated, but so what? YOU NEED THE BALLOT or PETITION ITSELF.

  2. Pat I won’t go so far as to argue inequities in our mail system but seriously if a candidate for public office, especially one wishing to run for the legislature, cannot make the effort to drive or be driven to Pierre to personally hand in their petitions how on Gods green earth are they going to swing getting there once a week during session?

  3. I agree with Pat. There needs to be PROOF that it was mailed on a certain date or something to show the candidate sought to comply. The candidate will not know if it is lost in time perhaps and now with a move to change the date in to February the candidate may not be able to drive it to Pierre in wintery conditions.

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