Killer Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg can hardly do his job without help from outside the state, but he managed to scribble his name at the bottom of a new official notice this week.
Obviously the firm community of “Wynstone“nestled beside the Missouri River and the Adams Homestead and Nature Preserve property just west of North Sioux City wants to put up some figurative fencing and break with Jefferson Township. Arrogant secessionists and the Union County Commission disagree over the process of petitioning for such separatism. The Wynstoners are reading SDCL 8-1-8 and conclude that they can call a vote on the township split by collecting the signatures of a majority of registered voters residing in the tax haven they seek to carve out of Jefferson Township. But at a committee meeting on February 9, the county auditor and state attorney argued that the petition to call for a vote on the township split must have a majority of signatures. residents of the entire canton. The parties also disagree on the definition of residency status:
The second issue is with registered voters who do not necessarily reside in Jefferson Township. Of the 520 registered voters in the Wynstone area, Walker said at least 134 no longer reside there and should not be counted in the petition numbers. [Beth Sherard-Fennel, âA New Township for Union County?â Southern Union County Leader-Courier & Dakota Dunes/North Sioux City Times, 2021.02.12].
On February 9, the commission asked State Attorney Jerry Miller to seek formal advice from his boyfriend the Attorney General. I don’t know what the delay was, but the attorney general responded on September 15 with a fairly simple recitation of the law.
First, the Wynstoners are correct that they need to collect signatures from a majority of Wynstone residents, not a majority of residents across the Township. SDCL 8-1-8 refers to a majority of registered voters âresiding in the affected parts of the affected townshipsâ. When the law is clear, the attorney general is clear:
Undoubtedly, writes the Attorney General, the entire Jefferson Township will be affected by the proposed division. However, I conclude that the use of “affected parts” in the statutory text, in conjunction with “affected township”, limits the petition requirement to registered voters residing in the affected parts of the township of Jefferson which will be divided into the township of. Wynstone. [Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg, Official Opinion 21-02: âPotential Division of Jefferson Township in Union County,â 2021.09.15].
But on the issue of residency voting, Ravnsborg remains as nebulous as South Dakota’s problematic residency vote status. It refers to the infamous Heinemeyer v. Heartland (2008) previous but simply reaffirms SDCL 12-1-4:
For the purposes of this title, the term residence designates the place where a person has established his residence and where the person, in the event of absence, intends to return.
A person who left their home and went to another state, territory or county within that state solely for temporary purposes has not changed residence.
A person is considered to have acquired a residence in any county or municipality of that state in which he actually lives, if the person does not intend to leave.
If a person moves to another State, or to one of the other territories, with the intention of making it his permanent residence, the person thus loses his residence in that State. [SDCL 12-1-4, last amended 2004].
Ravnsborg does not answer the County or the Wynstoners’ question as to whether or not the 134 registered voters who live elsewhere should count towards the petition threshold; it simply repeats the legal requirement that we determine whether these others “intend” to “return” to Wynstone at any time in the future. Currently, this return intent clause allows tax-evading RVers to get a vote in South Dakota by renting a mailbox in Sioux Falls and sleeping at a Dakota campsite. South for a few nights before resuming their wanderings across the continent.
Hmm … so if the wealthy recluse in Jefferson Township continue their secession petition, we might find them testing the law that allows tens of thousands of people outside South Dakota to maintain their electoral residences. in South Dakota. Wynstoners Torpedo Winnebagos? I can’t wait to see this title!