Attorney General Marty Jackley published his explanation of Referred Law 19 yesterday. Referred Law 19, originally Senate Bill 69 from the 2015 Session, is the odious Incumbent Protection Plan, in which Republican legislators hijacked some reforms proposed by the Board of Elections and tried to make it harder for regular folks to run for office by increasing the petition signatures necessary to run for office and banning registered party members (80% of the electorate!) from signing Independent candidate petitions.
Currently, primary election candidates for certain offices must circulate and submit nominating petitions between January 1 and the last Tuesday in March. Referred Law 19 changes that timeframe to between December 1 and the first Tuesday in March. The referred law also changes other election-related submission deadlines, adjusting them from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March.
Certain election-related documents, including nominating petitions, are currently considered timely submitted is sent by registered mail before the deadline. The referred law changes this to require that these documents be received by the submission deadline. It also changes the method for calculating the number of signatures on nominating petitions for certain elective offices.
The referred law prohibits a person registered with a recognized political party from signing an independent candidate’s nominating petition. The current law does not contain that prohibition.
Under the referred law, an independent governor candidate cannot appear on the ballot if the corresponding lieutenant governor candidate withdraws and a replacement is not certified by the second Tuesday in August. It also restricts the circumstances under which a political party may replace a candidate who has withdrawn from consideration after the primary election.
A vote “yes” is for revising State laws regarding elections and election petitions.
A vote “No” is against the referred law [Attorney General Marty Jackley, Referred Law 19 explanation, 2016.05.11].
That provision about independent gubernatorial candidates in Section 8 of 2015 SB 69 had escaped my attention. It seems odd that A.G. Jackley would dedicate 32 of his 200 words to this minor provision while ignoring other provisions like the restrictive movement of the deadline for submitting nominating petitions for special Congressional elections from 45 to 65 days prior to the vote (Section 3) and the requirement that independent sheriff candidates submit their petitions by the last Tuesday of April instead of the first Tuesday after the first Monday in June (Section 11). The A.G. might have better used those 32 words to give more detail about the provisions that have a broader effect, like explaining that the method for calculating the required number of signatures on petitions for elective offices will require partisan candidates to collect more signatures.
The A.G. could also have taken a moment to explain, as he has on other ballot measures (see Initiated Measure 22), that portions of Referred Law 19 may be unconstitutional: 2015 SB 69 has already provoked a court challenge to the earlier deadline for new parties to file petitions for recognition, and the provision banning Republicans and Democrats from signing Independent petitions was struck down by a federal court in Campbell v. Hull (1999).
I won’t be too hard on Marty; Republican legislators created a monstrosity that’s hard to explain objectively and fully in 200 words. But here’s the version I’ll give you on the campaign trail:
Referred Law 19 protects incumbents by making it harder for regular folks to run for office. It makes candidates circulate petitions over Christmas and submit petitions before the Legislative Session is done. It makes Republicans and Democrats scramble for more signatures. It takes away the right of four out of five South Dakotans to sign for Independent candidates. We should make it easier, not harder to run for office. Vote Referred Law 19 down.
74 words. Not bad.