Hang on—two corrections:
- Make that three vetoes: when I ask for the Governor to stop SB 69, I also kinda have to ask him to block SB 67. See fourth paragraph below.
- SB 69 was a petition reform bill. On January 28 in Senate State Affairs, Senators Corey Brown and Ernie Otten perverted it into partisan trickery to make it harder for voters to put Independents on the ballot.
I have submitted the following message to Governor Daugaard to urge his veto. I invite you all to send the Governor a similar message.
Monday, March 16, 2015
Dear Governor Daugaard:
Please veto Senate Bill 69 and its companion SB 67.
As written, Senate Bill 69 will likely be overturned by the courts. Specifically, Section 7 prohibits voters registered as members of recognized political parties from signing Independent petitions. No other state imposes such limits on voters’ right to nominate Independents to the general election ballot. Louisiana had such a law from 1918 to 1948, during which time no Independent candidate made the Louisiana ballot. Citing the Louisiana experience, the U.S. District Court of Arizona overturned a similar Arizona law in Campbell v. Hull (1999), finding, “there is no reason to believe that Arizona can prevent independents from seeking the support of registered Republicans and Democrats as long as those partisan voters have not already performed a nominating act.” The State of Arizona never appealed this decision.
SB 69 creates additional problems in Sections 12 and 24. Section 12 moves the deadline for organizing a new party up three to four more weeks, further restricting the ability of voters to respond to government actions by forming new parties. Section 24 allows new-party candidates to obtain petition signatures from non-party members, forcing new parties to accept candidates who may be nominated entirely by non-party members. Both provisions infringe on the freedom of association of members of new parties.
Case law indicates significant portions of SB 69, if enacted, will not withstand court scrutiny. We would do better to drop the entire bill and return next year to craft a bill that adheres more closely to the Board of Elections’ original intent of reforming the petition process. Arguably, Senate Bill 68, the third portion of this year’s petition reform package, does enough by itself to improve the integrity of the petition process by mandating that the Secretary of State check statewide nominating petitions with 5% random sampling.
SB 69 is integrally linked to SB 67, which sets the deadline for filing court challenges to petitions on the third Tuesday in March. Vetoing SB 69 would leave the deadline for filing petitions on the last Tuesday in March, making the court deadline of SB 67 inappropriate.
Vetoing SB 69 and SB 67 will protect voter rights and spare the state a court challenge it would lose while leaving intact the step taken in SB 68 to improve the integrity of nominating petitions. Please veto Senate Bill 69 and Senate Bill 67.
If you have any questions about the reasons to veto SB 69 and SB 67, I will be happy to speak with you further. Thank you for your attention to voter rights and petitions.
Cory Allen Heidelberger
Aberdeen, South Dakota
Rep. Spence Hawley attempted to alert the conference committee to the legal problems with Senate Bill 69 on Friday, but to no avail. Let us hope the Governor will now heed these concerns. Governor Daugaard, please spare the voters some grief and the state another legal bill: please veto Senate Bill 69 (and 67).