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Failed Smoking Ban Petition Provides Lesson

July 28, 2009, 5:58 PM by Jennifer Trammell

Failed Smoking Ban Petition Provides Lesson
Questions raised over the smoking ban petition are a lesson for another group hoping to get its initiative on the ballot.

With 7,500 signatures, the petition to bring the issue of legalizing medical marijuana to a state-wide vote is well on its way.

"The pace has really picked up, and I'm very confident we'll meet our goal of 25,000 signatures by the end of August,” Petition Coordinator Emmett Reistroffer said.

But after election officials threw out thousands of signatures on the smoking ban petition, Reistroffer and volunteers with the South Dakota Coalition for Compassion are taking steps to make sure it doesn't happen to them.

"We're going to validate the signatures ourselves before we file them,” Reistroffer said. “We can check the names and addresses and make sure the folks are registered to vote."

Unlike the smoking ban petition, which was distributed all across the state, these volunteers are collecting signatures in a few specific places, like the Minnehaha County Administration Building.

"The smoking ban petition, I think had a bad rate because they were collecting most of their signatures in drinking establishments,” Reistroffer said.

Another problem: Notaries used a wrong date on the page, so those signatures didn't count.

"Fortunately we haven't had any problems with our notaries. We're using all the proper information and following all procedures,” Reistroffer said.

With less than 10,000 signatures needed to get their issue on the ballot, Reistroffer is confident it's one voters will get to decide at the polls.

The group hopes to collect about 9,000 extra signatures to make up for any that may not count.

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