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So Finkenauer gets a lifeline from the Iowa Black Robes.

The signature petition to get a candidate on the ballot requires that the forms be filled out by a registered voter from the jurisdiction of the area that the office encompasses.  In this case, the US Senate race – the person has to be a citizen of the state of Iowa for a state wide race.


Within that limitation, the state requires the signer provide valid information including name, address – House number and Street, City, Signature Date.

At issue here were signatures that had missing dates and other invalid dates in the Signature Date box.   Any person would normally agree that if the state (govt) requires information to be collected it is certainly implied that the information must be valid.  If the state doesn’t specifically call out what information is disqualifying (ie the missing date, invalid dates) then one must assume by virtue of requiring a date it must be a valid date within accepted norms.

Here is where the Black Robes made up law…they stated that since the state does not specifically call out the constraints of what constitutes a valid date that there can be no objection because the state has not included this criteria as objectionable.

But see the state does…by requiring valid voter information it is implicit that the information must be correct in its entry.   If the state requires a valid date, then logically an invalid date is not acceptable.

The Black Robes logic used in their decision undermines the validity of the voter information required to make sure we are getting petition signatories that are lawfully signed.

Small Potatoes?  Maybe, but within the parameters of the petition process I don’t think we can be so cavalier as to allow the acceptance of missing or invalidly entered information.  If a candidate cannot follow the laws in gathering the required signatures to gain ballot access then they should not be on the ballot.

So what’s next?  Do we start accepting Julian Dates??  Chinese Lunar Dates??  The fact is with this decision I can put dang near anything in that date field now.   According to the Black Robes logic I can put anything in the date field that’s not explicitly stated as objectionable by the state.  The Black Robes just made every future date objection moot.

One always has to ask these questions when dealing with the Black Robes decisions. We will most assuredly be re-visiting the invalid dates issue next election as the Black Robes have let the camel’s nose under the tent.  Perhaps this will be Iowa’s Hanging Chad moment for every election year for the foreseeable future.

As it stands – the Black Robes saved Finkenauer to fight another day when they should have used common sense and disallowed the invalid dates.   Me thinks this was more a political decision than one bound by the basis of law.

Signed: Letter To The Editor

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