June 26, 2009 -
South Dakota bars and restaurants were supposed to go smoke free next week. But those plans were snuffed out Thursday, June 25th after Secretary of State Chris Nelson said opponents of the statewide smoking ban collected enough signatures to put the issue on the 2010 ballot.
Those who support a statewide smoking ban aren't calling a 2010 vote official just yet. That's because the group has a week to comb through all of the signatures themselves to make sure there are enough valid names on the petition. The Secretary of State says in his view the petition is official until the South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network can prove in an affidavit that opponents did not get enough signatures to put the issue on the November 2010 ballot.
Opponents of a statewide smoking ban having thousands of signatures certified in time to delay the smoke free law in South Dakota is a victory itself. "It's a relief. It's a lot of work to get that many signatures and we relied on volunteers," petition drive organizer Larry Mann said.
Thursday, supporters of the smoking ban said they are gearing up for a week long examination of the petition opponents handed in. "We're simply participating in something many other groups and individuals do to make sure we've covered all the bases," Darrin Smith of the American Heart Association said. The South Dakota Tobacco Free Kids Network says it will review and challenge the 25 thousand signatures handed in. The Secretary of State's verification process uses a five percent sample of the petition to figure out if it has enough valid signatures.
"We'll see what happens if it turns out they officially qualify for the ballot when all the reviews are done," Smith said.
The Secretary of State's review of the petition showed a 27-point-9 percent rate of invalid signatures on the petition, which is higher than average but not the worst the office has seen. Opponents who circulated the petitions say they are comfortable with a second review of the signatures. "We believe people ought to have the right to due process. So, that's the law that we're given to work with and if they want to avail themselves of it that's their prerogative," Mann said.
Related news briefs: South Dakota - opponents try to stop extended smoking ban..; South Dakota - extends smoking ban effective July 1, 2009...
Reference: Smoking Ban Supporters Will Review Signatures, Keloland Television, 6/25/2009; South Dakota Smoking Ban by Matt Johnson, KDLT.com, 6/21/2009.