PIERRE – Deuel County Auditor Pam Lynde followed state law when she found there weren’t sufficient valid signatures on petitions seeking a special election on changes made in 2017 to the county wind-farm ordinance, the South Dakota Supreme Court said.
Four citizens asked Circuit Judge Carmen Means to order Lynde and the Deuel County Commission to hold the election. Judge Means turned down the request.
Justice Steven Jensen wrote the unanimous decision of the court upholding the circuit judge and the county auditor that was publicly released Thursday.
The county commission changed the wind ordinance May 23, 2017. The citizens submitted three petitions with 322 signatures to Auditor Lynde asking the issue be put to a county-wide vote.
Lynde found two petitions failed to meet standards set in state law. She said the third was valid but the 19 signatures fell short of the 145 needed for the referendum.
Circuit Judge Means agreed the auditor had reached the correct legal conclusion.
Citizens Doyle Thompson, Debra Huber, Allen Skatvold and Dennis D. Evenson asked the Supreme Court to review the judge’s decision, arguing the defects on the petition with 252 signatures were “mere technicalities presenting no reasonable risk of confusion, fraud, or corruption.”
Justice Jensen said the petition didn’t meet the legal requirements because the petition failed to identify the full title of the ordinance and didn’t provide the date of passage.
“To excuse compliance with these requirements would frustrate the statute’s purposes,” Jensen wrote.
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