By: Mike Zitterich @ Sioux Falls Community Chronicle
You do not have to sign every petition that comes before you, and you surely do not want to sign a petition just to place it on the ballot that covers a topic, or concept plan, or public issue you may, or may not agree with. If a petition gatherer comes before you, which they often do, why would you want to place a topic on the public ballot just to place it on the ballot, knowing that it is very easy to manipulate, confuse, and convince a small number of ‘voters’ to vote yes or no on the topic?
Would you not want to debate the facts, the evidence for, or against the proposed topic? Would you not want to ask questions, speak with others on what is good, or bad about the proposal…let alone, if the topic is strongly against your beliefs, let alone you strongly disagree with the issue, why then, would you sign a petition before all the facts are heard before the people?
A lot of people simply sign petitions because they feel it is their constitutional right to place things on a public ballot. But contrary to what one believes, you do not have to sign any such petition that you do not feel comfortable getting on a ballot. By not signing a petition, is also a right of yours, protected by the Constitution, itself, and you should not sign your name on any document, of which you have strong beliefs against, regardless.
Would you sign your name to a contract that may place you, your family, your property in harm’s length? No. You would not.
I have entertained the thought of the proper way to go out and petition the voters across the State, and I have proposed the means of building “Committees” equal to at least 1 Member per County, and at least 1 member per Precinct. Then it struck me, folks, ‘we’ have already done this, we have elected County and Precinct CommitteeMen and Women for that very purpose.
Knowing the facts, that a lot people do not necessarily want to be bothered by petition seekers, at least without a phone call, or a notice given to them, that they are being asked to support, or sign a petition, people need to realize, there are some of us who do not want to sign petitions without strong public debate, becoming educated on the ‘topic’, the resolution, the initiative, the concept first – and because most petition groups usually stand on one corner, or in one parking lot, there is hardly any debate to be had, other than a small, one on one conversation that may get heated, or not heated when confronted.
This is one of the reasons ‘we’ elect county and precinct committees, their job is to go out and hold meetings, discuss the potential of future resolutions, initiatives, constitutional amendments, concepts that may or may not gain support. This was the very purpose of “Committee Men and Women” , the means of the “People” to Republic together to discuss all things public.
Republic is defined a group with a certain equality between its members, of whom act as a community of scholars and the republic of learning, and of which a “State of People” of which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated governor rather than a monarch, and of which furthermore, a community defines a group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, of which they enjoy a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
We are broken down into Republican v Democrat Committees. So not only do we have these committees organized, ‘we’ have the State divided into two groups of people across the “State”, further subdivided into Legislative Districts, Counties, and Precincts, each of whom have a Legislative Delegate, a County committee person, and a precinct committee person.
There is a reason why some of us, and I am not the only one, who wishes to change the petition process of placing resolutions and initiatives on a ballot, to include forcing petition groups to get signatures in no less than 60% of the Counties.
That shows the people, based in fact, and in law, that they have reached out to the majority of the state, rather than just a small group of people on the corner of 6th and Minnesota Avenue in the State’s largest city, where it is easy to manipulate the vote knowing that presumerbally all you need is 210,000 voters to win a popular vote.
The rest of the “State” knows that 70% of the “registered voters” reside in the 10 largest cities of the state, but ‘we’ also must protect those people in the smaller communities, which make up 90% of the land area of the state.
We proposed the 60% rule a few years ago, but could not agree to adopt it, however, what harm is it to force petition gathers to reach out to a large majority of the “State” if they truly believe their concept is right for South Dakota?
The rule would also prevent “National Lobbyists” from manipulating S.D Voters by only gaining their support in the likes of Sioux Falls, Rapid City, Brookings, Yankton, Watertown, Aberdeen, Chamberlain, Mitchell, and Huron – presumably, the 9 largest most progressive cities of the “State”.
If I am a petition gatherer this coming year, and I am trying to gain the support of a vast majority of our population, I would much rather seek, and go out and gain the most opinions of every citizen across the “State” who may or may not agree with me, let alone want to know what, and what not those people are saying in both Agriculture Communities, let alone Large Urban Type Communities, capturing the greater collective opinions of Urban vs Rural mindsets.
The only means of doing this, is building a Petition Committee of which provides you at least 1 Committee Member per County, let alone Precinct.
This provides you an over all “greater ability: to gather as many opinions as possible. Each one of those “Committee Members” then have the luxury of meeting in small groups of people, holding Town Halls, holding Learning and Listening Sessions, fully capable of allowing the citizens to amend, change, or fix mistakes related to your “Concept Plan”. A plan of which you wish them to adopt into codified law.
This is why ‘we’ build committees, for the ability of forming groups of people, with the goal to discuss public affairs of our state, our counties, and our local communities.
Then it strikes me, it comes to me…
This is why ‘we” have County and Precinct Committee Persons, we elect them to serve in those exact roles to seek out, and gain the opinions of the people making up the “State” – each County has a Committee Person, each Precinct has a Committee Person.
Precinct Committeemen and women are elected for two year terms and represent the precincts at Statewide, and Countywide conventions, while serving in a role to reach out to the residents, the voters (electors) in each precinct in order to help register voters, let alone meet with legislators to lobby and help canvass the state in support of legislation and candidates.
County and Precinct Committee Responsibilities:
  1. Committee meetings.
  2. Become a voter registrar and recruit new voters.
  3. Circulate petitions for candidates prior to the primary.
  4. Canvass your precinct in support of our candidates.
  5. Promote strong election ethics.
  6. Recruit poll for election day and early voting.
  7. Educate, Inform, work with the voters connecting them to representatives.
  8. Be an advocate for the interests of the voters in your precinct.
  9. Discuss, Adopt Resolutions, Initiatives, and Choose At-Large
Precinct Committee Persons main job is to help educate, inform, and organize the voters within the precinct, with the intent to nominate legislative candidates, and to represent their political party to help push forward party agenda across the State.
And, that is how ‘we’ form a vast opinion of the State, and when a large # of Precincts begin to adopt resolutions to accept each other, to work together, to adopt statewide initiatives – then you have the means of petitioning, and earning the respect of ALL CITIZENS.
While we only have two groups, the Democrats and Republicans, what ‘we’ need is to form a Independent Statesmen Party – this would form an outside, more independent faction of people who think outside the guise of the main two political factions.
I met a good friend, Bill Nees, he was from Valdosta, Georgia. He had a dream to create the Independent Statesmen Party – knowing that nearly 47% of the Population nationwide was not a member of either political party, all they needed was a ‘party’ or one single platform to unite behind, and together, they would be stronger than both the Republican and Democrat Platforms.
What an interesting concept – a “Faction” of like minded Citizens of a State, joining forces, under an Independent Platform, choosing to elect County and Precinct Committees, of which could then, better organize, hold meetings across the “State” with the intent to form concise opinions of the each County, all of which together, ‘we’ stand united in opinion, enough so, to properly balance out the political divide of the people themselves.
Each County would not only have a Democrat or Republican Opinion, it would have a complete Independent Opinion by those who are not a party to either of the main two parties, and that would give them a much stronger voice across the “State”.

So, in closing, as you go out and among the community this summer, and you travel the state, whether for work, camping, or tourism, etc – think about all those ‘petitioners’ who may walk up to you, to convince you to sign a petition to nominate candidates, or to place resolutions, initiatives, and constitutional amendments on our public statewide ballots – think before you sign, ask questions, encourage strong debate, discussion, offer your thoughts, opinions, take the time to educate yourself, informing yourself and others prior to signing that petition.

If the proposed law is not in your best interests, would it make sense to affix your signature on a document, knowing that it only takes 50% + 1 vote to approve of the concept, knowing that the new law may restrict your rights, or agenda, let alone ‘govern’ your everyday activity?

We have 887,000 Citizens here in South Dakota, all of them are broken down into smaller blocks of people by means of Legislative Districts, Counties, Precincts, with each forming their own beliefs, opinions, and thoughts.

We adopt new laws two distinct ways, by our Legislature where you need 50% Plus 1 Vote of both the Senate and House; or by the Voters, where we have 548,000 registered voters, of which in any given election, all it takes is 225,001 voters to vote yes, to pass, adopting that new law into code.
Do you want to allow a mere 25.3% of the Qualified Voters to force you to be governed a specific way, a manner of which you may not agree with, but may be forced if adopted, and enacted into law? Furthermore, even in our Legislature all it takes is 54 elected representatives to adopt new laws into code, being enacted upon thus governing over you, even worse, less than 0.006% of the total population of which would force you to be governed in a specific manner.
Like legislators, “voters” can be manipulated by outside forces, and when big money has today become the means of paying a small group of people to get things on a public ballot, do you trust a small group of people to vote, or to adopt laws into action?
Folks, know what you are affixing your signature to, just as you do with “contracts” – know what the terms are, the side-effects are, understand the meaning of words, what the overall agenda may or may not be, prior to signing that ‘petition’.
Most people simply say, yes, I will sign your petition, just cause the Constitution gives them the right to do so, but some decide, for themselves, that they rather educate, study, and inform themselves first prior to signing that petition.
Hold those Constitutional Conventions, Community Town Halls, those Learning and Listening Sessions first, give the greater majority of people the right to discuss those concepts, propose changes, amending, voicing their grievances first, before signing those petitions later on this summer.