Remember the talk a few months ago about asking South Dakota voters whether they want to join the winner-take-all movement for electing U.S. presidents? That issue won’t be on the November 2012 statewide ballot after all.
“We haven’t circulated any petitions and we haven’t collected any signatures,” state Sen. Craig Tieszen, R-Rapid City, said. Tieszen and three other legislators — Senate Democratic leader Jason Frerichs of Wilmot; Rep. Tad Perry, R-Fort Pierre; and Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron — were going to be the official sponsors for the petition drive. They would have needed to file valid signatures of at least 15,855 South Dakota registered voters with Secretary of State Jason Gant no later than 5 p.m. Nov. 1.Stymied in the Legislature, the National Popular Vote movement’s organizers decided to try a ballot measure to get South Dakota’s agreement to participate.
The concept is that states agree they will require all of their Electoral College votes to be cast for the presidential candidate who receives the most votes nationwide, regardless of whether that candidate won in their states.
The South Dakota effort went as far as Pierre lawyer Mike Shaw submitting the proposed language for the ballot measure to the Legislative Research and state Attorney General Marty Jackley for clearance.
But then the matter advanced no further. Shaw sent a letter to the secretary of state giving notice that he wouldn’t be continuing as the attorney of record. He didn’t give a reason.
This week Tieszen acknowledged that national organizers pulled the plug on their South Dakota plans because public support didn’t seem to be sufficient. “They’re redirecting their efforts elsewhere,” Tieszen said. “We’re in a holding pattern.”
This marks the third time in 2011 that petition drives were promised but the signatures weren’t filed. The other two involved health care laws that were passed by the Legislature. Opponents sought to refer them to statewide votes and took out petitions, but no signatures were delivered.