People Power Referendum: Stop the Circulator Registry and Badges!

Keep Calm and Sign the PetitionS SDVoiceThe Legislature has done so much damage to the people’s petition process, we need two petitions to fix it! In addition to the People Power Initiative, SD Voice is sponsoring the People Power Referendum to restore South Dakotans’ constitutional right to put laws to a vote.

The People Power Referendum seeks to suspend and put to a vote House Bill 1094, a bill passed last winter that would force ballot question petition circulators to put their names and personal information in a government registry and wait for the state to issue them badges for any petition they intend to circulate. HB 1094 stinks for several reasons:

  1. HB 1094 crushes civic engagement by making it impossible for volunteers to jump in and immediately help a grassroots ballot question petition drive.
  2. HB 1094 expands state intrusion in circulators’ privacy, requiring volunteers to surrender not just their name, e-mail, and phone number but now their physical address to the state and to passersby on the street, thus subjecting them to harassment from unfriendly state officials and petition opponents even before they start collecting signatures.
  3. HB 1094’s sloppy wording turns anyone who speaks in favor of signing a petition into a circulator subject to criminal penalty for failing to register.
  4. HB 1094 squeezes genuine grassroots campaigners out of petition drives and ensures big-money special interests expand their role in initiative and referendum.
  5. HB 1094 subjects citizens to prior restraint of free speech activity, which will not withstand court scrutiny.

To stop this law from taking effect and put it to a vote in 2020, we need to collect 16,961 signatures by June 27 of this year. If we get this referendum on the ballot, we’ll put HB 1094 on hold and get the chance to make the case to all South Dakota voters that they should vote this bad law down.

If you want to circulate a petition and collect signatures from your friends and neighbors,  contact me, and I’ll get you the right papers and instructions so you can help put the People Power Referendum on the ballot and bring democracy back to South Dakota.

We don’t need no stinking badges—we need South Dakotans to be able to exercise their Constitutional rights! 

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