SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — More than 600 sheets containing thousands of signatures are now in the hands of Tom Greco’s office. 

The city clerk for Sioux Falls is now tasked with following state law and determining whether the threshold of 6,089 valid signatures from registered voters within the city of Sioux Falls has been met. The number 6,089 is 5% of all registered Sioux Falls voters on the second Tuesday in January.

Last week, the group called Smart Growth Sioux Falls announced it submitted more than 10,000 signatures supporting a municipal-initiated measure to amend zoning ordinances for Sioux Falls to state “no new slaughterhouse may be constructed, or be permitted to operate, within the city limits.”

“The process is laid out in state law,” Greco told KELOLAND News about the validating process. “It’s not as simple as just looking at the names themselves. There’s a process to evaluate the form to make sure it’s in the proper form.” 

Along with state laws regarding the initiative and referendum process, Greco’s office follows administrative rules set by the South Dakota Board of Elections. At the state level, there are petitions for Constitutional Amendments, initiated measures and referendums. There’s also petitions for county-level changes, municipal-level changes and school district-level changes.

In 2016, Greco’s office rejected more than 6,000 signatures to hold a public vote over a planned city administration building. That group used a form designed for state initiatives rather than the municipal form.

Some of the rules state law requires are the signer’s residence address, county of voter registration and date of signing. No signature can be valid if it was signed more than six months prior to the filing of petitions. 

Some of the administrative rules include what the proper forms are for certain petition questions. In this case, a ballot question committee is seeking an initiated measure to ban any new slaughterhouses from being built inside city limits.

The second section of the initiated measure says it would not apply to any existing slaughterhouses already operating in Sioux Falls and it would not prevent them from expanding.   

Greco said he’s not a lawyer and doesn’t determine whether the state’s single-subject rule comes into play for this municipal ballot question. The Sioux Falls city attorney will be tasked to explain the ballot measure if it makes it onto voters’ ballots.

Once the signatures are validated and the initiated measure is approved by Greco’s office, he’ll officially notify the city council and there’s also a five day challenge period. 

“In this particular case, the council will need to take action,” Greco said. “To be placed on the general ballot, the council, the governing body, has to certify language to the auditor, in this case, two auditors, Lincoln County and Minnehaha County by August 2.” 

Greco said state law calls for valid petitions to be placed on the next annual city election or general election, whichever is earlier. For this initiated measure, the next closest election is the November 2022 general election. 

Greco said the last time a municipal initiated measure question appeared on a general election ballot was in November 1968. 

The last municipal initiated measure questions in Sioux Falls was in 2014. Those initiated measure questions – snow gates usage and a pool replacement at Spellerberg Park – were placed on the April 2014 city election ballot. 

“They’re not a rare occurrence. Questions on the ballot are not a rare occurrence,” Greco said. “The last time we saw ballot measures on a ballot, aside from charter amendments, which we see pretty frequently now, was in 2014 which predates (my time serving as city clerk.” 

The ballot question committee will be required to submit campaign finance disclosure statements leading up to the election