Secretary of State: Reviewing Questionable Petitions to Take Months
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is describing the process to review the challenge over the validity of signatures on the 18 percent cap measure. Concerns of petition fraud and notaries who appear to have dated and notarized documents before all of the signatures were collected are one of the items in an official challenge. Secretary of state Shantel Krebs:
Our office will have to review each deficiency, and evaluate it based on what they would call a challenge, and then present the determination. We just want to make sure that we are doing our due diligence and we do have two challenges placed before us that we will be reviewing in the coming months.
Krebs describes the review process and timeline to finish their review:
We have an election team of 4 individuals that will be working on these as they can between the other job duties of the day. With local elections and other statewide elections going on, we will be processing them as we can. I think it is going to take us several months to proceed and review, line by line, the specific deficiency that has been presented to us as a challenge. With two challenges before us, our staff will be working on these in between the other job duties throughout the day.
Another concern in the Challenge to the 18 percent cap measure is penmanship inconsistencies. Could multiple people have signed the same name as a petition collector?
Penmanship would not be something that our office, under statutory or administrative rule, is required to consider. We are looking at each line for completeness, we’re checking that if that citizen that signed that petition is a registered voter, we are making sure that that voter is registered in that county that he or she stated that they are registered in, we are looking at the notary, we’re checking the dates, we’re checking for the completeness of the petition title, and explanation on the front. Those are the specific items that have been laid out in state statute that I can review.
The challenge also brings forward specific petition pages where it appears they were notarized and dated first, and then signatures with later dates were collected after the fact.
The notary is actually confirming to the signature of the circulator, that he or she is the individual that is circulating that. We are looking to see what the date of that notary was, so hopefully it would be after the date of the signatures.
The notaries named in the challenge have listed their address as the same address as North American Title loans in South Dakota.
If the 18 percent cap measure became law, it would allow loan applicants to sign a waiver as a loophole to be charged much higher interest rates. Reports of 300 percent or more have been charged to those with credit issues in South Dakota.
Another measure is the 36 percent interest cap which is absolute, where no waiver can be signed to allow for higher rates.