Petition and Placeholder Changes: The Reliable Guide to Senate Bill 69

Governor Dennis Daugaard can spare the state a lawsuit if he vetoes Senate Bill 69. However, if he doesn’t veto, here’s how the petition reform bill will change South Dakota’s election process:

  1. Candidates for Presidential elector, Congress, Governor, Legislature, and other offices who currently may begin circulating petitions on January 1 will be able to start circulating on December 1.
  2. Candidates whose current petition submission deadline is the last Tuesday in March will have to submit their petitions by the first Tuesday in March (four weeks earlier in 2016, three weeks earlier in 2018). This change does not affect Independent candidates, whose petition submission deadline remains the last Tuesday in April.
  3. South Dakota State Capitol
    Don’t tell Shantel your petition is in the mail; the paper needs to be HERE, in her hands, by the deadline!

    The Secretary of State will no longer accept petitions sent by registered mail that reach her office after the submission deadline, effectively denying candidates who depend on the mail to reach Pierre two or three days of petition circulation time.

  4. The registered mail grace period is also repealed for local elections. Petitions must be in the hands of the person in charge of the election by the submission deadline.
  5. In a special Congressional election not coinciding with a primary or general election, candidates will have to submit their nominating petitions 65 days before the election, not the current 45 days prior.
  6. The minimum number of signatures statewide candidates affiliated with a recognized party must submit on their petitions will change from 1% of their last gubernatorial candidate’s vote tally to 1% of the voters registered with their party at the last general election. In most circumstances, this change means major-party candidates will need to collect more signatures, with an even greater disadvantage for a party whose gubernatorial candidate performs poorly. Looking at the last general election rather than the last gubernatorial election means the percentages will change for every election rather than for every other election.
  7. The minimum number of signatures for Independent statewide candidates change from 1% of the last combined gubernatorial vote to 1% of voters registered Independent or “other” at the last general election. Barring enormous Independent registration and/or dismal voter turnout, this change means Independents will need to gather fewer signatures.
Petition signatures required under… Republican Democrat Independent
Current Law 1,955 706 2,775
SB 69 2,406 1,762 1,045
  1. Democrats, Republicans, and voters registered as members of other recognized political parties will no longer be able to sign petitions for Independent candidates. Given the math I’ve discussed in a previous post, plus the fact that Independents have no natural organization or network that helps a candidate find them, this new restriction makes it much harder for Independents to find eligible signers and far outweighs the advantage of the decreased signature requirement for Independents.
  2. The deadline for filing petitions for recognizing a new political party will move up from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March.*
  3. Candidates of newly recognized parties currently must submit at least 250 signatures from registered members of their new party to make the ballot. Section 24 of SB 69 gives these candidates a second route to the ballot: they may collect signatures equaling 1% of the Independent/other voters registered at the last general election. Practically, Section 24 means newly recognized Libertarians, Greens, etc. running in 2016 could get either 250 signatures from members of their own party or 1,045 signatures from members of their own party and/or Independents. However, SB 69 leaves intact the language of SDCL 12-6-8 that specifies “No person may sign the nominating petition… for a political candidate of a party of which the person is not a member….” This sloppy drafting appears to negate Section 24.
  4. Party candidates may withdraw from the ballot and be replaced by their party’s central committee only under one of the following conditions:
    1. Illness of self or immediate family member, attested by licensed physician;
    2. Death (no doctor’s note required);
    3. Absence of any other nominee for the given office at the time the sole candidate withdraws;
    4. Election or nomination to another office that by law conflicts with the office sought;
    5. Job that by law conflicts with the office sought;
    6. Permanent change of residence to place outside jurisdiction of office sought.
  5. Independent candidates for sheriff will see their deadline for filing petitions moved up from the first Tuesday of June to the last Tuesday of April.

Senate Bill 69 remains on Governor Daugaard’s desk, awaiting his decision.

*Update 10:05 CDT: Interestingly, SB 69 does not change the signature requirement for forming a new party or the basis on which that requirement is calculated. Per SDCL 12-5-1, organizers of a new party will need to obtain signatures equal to 2.5% of the total combined vote in the last gubernatorial election, or, based on the 2014 vote, 6,936 signatures. I am puzzled by the fact that legislators made an effort to replace the last gubernatorial vote with the number of registered voters as the basis for petition requirement calculations in nearly every area but felt the gubernatorial vote was appropriate for just this one area. Did legislators leave this provision unchanged by rationale or omission?


13 Responses to Petition and Placeholder Changes: The Reliable Guide to Senate Bill 69

  1. The GOP in South Dakota and nationally realize that they are becoming dinosaurs and dodo birds so they are doing everything they can to stay in power. Consider their craftsmanship in gerrymandering, voter restrictions, caging and other shenanigans.

    Remember, in spite of the GOP wins in November, more people voted Democratic than Republican.

    Those registering as Independents are growing at the fastest rate in South Dakota, which must scare the GOP into crafting this unconstitutional bill.

    Mercer had a good story today on how the sausage that ended up as SB69 has been hijacked from the board of elections to fit the GOP party faithful.

    http://my605.com/pierrereview/?p=11942

    Notice how he highlights that SOS Krebs is hiding the minutes from a meeting held way back in early January.

    “SB 69 was one of a handful of election bills all carrying the name of the state board in the 2015 session, but in truth the legislation came from Krebs and her staff. Unfortunately, minutes from the Jan. 5 meeting haven’t been posted on the Board of Elections page on the secretary of state’s Internet site. So we can’t refer readers to that record (yet). But what happened to SB 69 after its introduction can be tracked through the legislative process via the LRC website.”

  2. Mercer makes subtle and effective points, as only Mercer can. I just wish he’d link to the critics he says are pressuring the Governor to veto SB 69.

    I am intrigued by Mercer’s suggestion that SB 69 may be veto-proof. Yes, SB 69 got enough votes to beat a veto, but are rank-and-file legislators really that enthused about SB 69? How many would stick by this bill if the Governor vetoes it, and if the Governor emphasizes that the state will get sued and lose if SB 69 is enacted?

  3. Maybe there are actual lawyers out there who think the state will win a suing case. Maybe these lawyers want to provoke a fight in the courts about this for some reason we have not fathomed. Or maybe young Ms. Krebs is just trying toy with the Democratic party for her entertainment.

  4. Cory Heidelberger writes:
    ————————————————–
    “Party candidates may withdraw from the ballot and be replaced by their party’s central committee only under one of the following conditions:
    1. Illness of self or immediate family member, attested by licensed physician;
    2. Death (no doctor’s note required);
    3. Absence of any other nominee for the given office at the time the sole candidate withdraws;
    4. Election or nomination to another office that by law conflicts with the office sought;
    5. Job that by law conflicts with the office sought;
    6. Permanent change of residence to place outside jurisdiction of office sought.”
    ————————————————–

    There’s been a lot of discussion about provisions of SB 69 that are vulnerable to court challenges, but I haven’t noticed anyone discussing these.

    It seems unlikely to me that any federal judge would automatically rubber-stamp special ballot-access privileges for a party whose candidate meets one of the arbitrary standards listed, especially while simultaneously denying ballot access to a party whose candidate withdraws for some other reason.

    Provision 1 raises questions about the definition of “immediate family” and potentially creates an incentive for candidates and/or physicians to lie. And just how severe does the candidate’s “illness” have to be? Would a tension headache suffice? What about a runny nose?

    Provision 3 actually sets up a scenario in which, for example, Republicans could use a placeholder in a race with no Democrat. When that Republican withdraws, is a federal judge looking at the supposed spirit of the law going to say Republicans can appoint a new candidate but Democrats and Libertarians can’t?

    Provisions 4, 5, and 6 all refer to things that are under the candidate’s control. It’s not clear why a candidate should be allowed to use these excuses but not others. The provisions also make it possible for a party to use someone who plans to pursue a conflicting office, job or residence as a placeholder.

    Some of these provisions seem almost like saying a party can replace a candidate with blue eyes but not a candidate with brown eyes, and I’m not at all sure a typical federal judge will exhibit the same cavalier attitude toward ballot access as our legislators have exhibited.

  5. Grudz, actual lawyers have adjudicated a similar to judicial overturn in Arizona. Law’s on my side, unless you can rise above your usual comments and provide some real analysis. Read much?

  6. Kurt, I’m intrigued by the thought that even this provision could be challengeable. Can we find some case law that would back a challenge on this provision?

    This provision seems to provoke unnecessary government prying into the private life of candidates, and on arbitrary issues. Why not allow a candidate to withdraw upon finding out she is pregnant? Or upon getting a divorce? Or how about upon losing a job? Losing money on the stock market? Parents dying and having to head home to run the family farm (a Noem exception)? I can think of any number of life changes that might change a candidate’s calculus and make running for office untenable. Why punish parties and voters just because life happens?

    Call me macabre, but I suppose enterprising party organizers could leave this provision alone and simply recruit terminally ill patients to be placeholders, or people who know they’ll be moving in a few months. ;-)

  7. Cory asks:
    >”Can we find some case law that would back a challenge on this provision?”

    I’m pretty sure we could.

    >”Why not allow a candidate to withdraw upon finding out she is pregnant? Or upon getting a divorce? Or how about upon losing a job? Losing money on the stock market? Parents dying and having to head home to run the family farm (a Noem exception)? … Why punish parties and voters just because life happens?”

    Those seem to be excellent rhetorical questions, Cory, because as far as I can tell, there’s no good answer to any of them.

  8. Hmm… so suppose that the withdrawal provisions of SB 69 do unfairly burden candidates who become pregnant or experience other life changes and their parties who are left unrepresented on the ballot. If Gov. Daugaard signs the bill, do we have to wait for such a candidate withdrawal situation to arise to file suit, or can we challenge a law in court and get a judge to nix it based on potential harm?

  9. Well the whole pregnancy thing could be fixed by just requiring a candidate who becomes pregnant to get an abortion. Or, just take a leave from parenting to be a good candidate or legislator.

    The easier fix for the GOP would just be to deny women of child bearing age the right to run for office which has the added benefit of keeping the good-old-boy network intact.

    Of course many of the life changes could be caring for a elderly parent that becomes ill and can’t afford home health because hating Obama is more important than expanding Medicare and Medicaid. See problem solved. Just legislate that you can’t run if there is a chance you could be in this situation and require health reports on people who a candidate could need to care for.

    I know these are hypothetical, but the GOP seems to love making laws and bases legislation around them everyday, so these aren’t crazy, unless of course this is just gamesmanship to keep the process “pure” and under their control.

    The GOP is clearly the league champion at “Calvinball” where you make up the rules as you play the game.

  10. Makes me think of an old childhood saying…”Tick toc the game is locked nobody else can play” which was normally used to keep the undesirable kid out of the game.

    Governor, I hope you are better than a good Calvinball game player. Right now your legacy is perilously close to being a gamer with your signing of the Daschle law…Calvinball at its best!

    Of course governor, you could admit that the game is more important to you than governing. More the pity.

  11. Just a quick commercial break.

    Ladies are you thinking of running for office to serve the people of South Dakota rather than special interests?

    But afraid that commitment and passion might be interrupted due to having or taking care of a family?

    Worry no more!

    Now there’s Douche-Gaard! We take the worry of those feminine issues that could make you uncomfortable. With Douche-Gaard there is no reason to even consider running.

    Douche-Gaard also is effective in making personal decisions for you regarding those pesky legal reproductive decisions that women are so poor at making. Douche-Gaard gives you the added benefit of eliminating all the thinking of making these decisions and comes between you and your personal physician for 72 hours…(weekends not included and may involve long travel) Just think of how unburdened you will be with Douche-Gaard making your reproductive decisions for you!

    You might also want to try NOEMore protection for Native American Women. ROUNDSup and THUNEbarrier for when you want to trade off your reproductive rights for stopping the trafficking of women into sexual slavery.

  12. Cory Heidelberger wrote:
    >”Hmm… so suppose that the withdrawal provisions of SB 69 do unfairly burden candidates who become pregnant or experience other life changes and their parties who are left unrepresented on the ballot. If Gov. Daugaard signs the bill, do we have to wait for such a candidate withdrawal situation to arise to file suit, or can we challenge a law in court and get a judge to nix it based on potential harm?”

    As you know, Cory, I’m not a lawyer, but I suspect there’s a way into court based on the fact that the various provisions of SB 69 were intentionally tailored to prevent and dissuade non-Republicans from running for public office in the first place.

    Right now I’m leaning against participation in any lawsuit before the referendum deadline has passed.

  13. mike from iowa

    Jana,in Texas a women can carry all the guns she wants into the lege,but a woman can’t have feminine hygiene products because whitey wingnut is afraid they will be used as missiles.As well they should. :)