Blog Helps Krebs Find Error in Election Law

Shantel Krebs, Cory Allen Heidelberger
Krebs and Heidelberger—Working Together for Better Election Laws.

I’m not even in the Senate yet, and I already have a bill in the chute.

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I noticed that a seemingly innocuous clean-up bill, House Bill 1033, had actually taken away citizens’ right to file challenges to primary candidate petitions outside of circuit court. The Secretary of State’s office noticed my blog post on that topic. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and Deputy SOS Kea Warne spoke with me on the phone this afternoon about the amended statute in question, SDCL 12-1-13, and realized that statute needs to be fixed.

For those of you just joining us, let’s review the recent evolution of the statute authorizing petition challenges.

In 2015, Senate Bill 67 inserted the following language into SDCL 12-1-13:

Any challenge to the certification or rejection of a nominating petition for a primary election made in circuit court shall be commenced no later than the third Tuesday in March. This action takes precedence over other cases in circuit court. Any party appealing the circuit court order to the Supreme Court shall file a notice of appeal within ten days of the date of the notice of the entry of the circuit court order [2015 SB 67].

This new language was meant to work with 2015’s Senate Bill 69, which moved the deadline for submitting nominating petitions back to the first Tuesday in March. Setting a deadline for court challenges and giving them precedence was meant to ensure that the court could address such challenges before the mid-April deadline for printing primary ballots.

I fouled that up by referring SB 69 to a public vote. That referral kept the petition filing deadline at the last Tuesday in March, which made a third-Tuesday-in-March challenge deadline absurd. To clean up my mess, the Board of Elections proposed striking the language of SB 67 and restoring SDCL 12-1-13 to its pre-67 form. However, members of the Board of Elections wanted (sensibly) to keep the provision giving court challenges precedence. During our phone conversation today, Secretary Krebs checked her copy of the Board’s draft proposals and found red ink that led to this amendment in 2016’s House Bill 1033:

Any challenge to the certification or rejection of a nominating petition for a primary election made in shall be to the circuit court shall be commenced no later than the third Tuesday in March. This action takes precedence over other cases in circuit court. Any party appealing the circuit court order to the Supreme Court shall file a notice of appeal within ten days of the date of the notice of the entry of the circuit court order [2016 HB 1033].

Cleaned up, SDCL 12-1-13 in its entirety thus now includes this damaging passage:

Any challenge to the certification or rejection of a nominating petition for a primary election shall be to the circuit court [SDCL 12-1-13].

I thought that maybe some sneaky incumbents had hijacked HB 1033 to further erode citizens’ ability to hold candidates accountable. However, Secretary Krebs said this language from HB 1033 is simply an error that fails to reflect what the Board of Elections intended. This language better reflects their intent:

Any challenge filed in circuit court to the certification or rejection of a nominating petition for a primary election shall be to the circuit court. This action takesshall take precedence over other cases in circuit court.

Recognizing this error, Secretary Krebs said that she will place this error on the Board of Elections agenda in October and ask the board to propose legislation to fix the petition challenge statute.

Thus, if the good people of District 3 trust me to be their next Senator, one of the first votes I get to cast may be for an election reform bill arising from this blog’s research and this Democrat’s conversation today with the Republican Secretary of State… who, on this issue, is working to protect voters’ rights.

 


13 Responses to Blog Helps Krebs Find Error in Election Law

  1. Ms. Krebs and the young Ms. Warne are no doubt always working to protect voters rights. Anybody who thinks they just sit around cooking up ideas to mess with the people is probably wearing their well worn Jabba the Gant T-shirt to bed too often. Mr. H, if you don’t make it to the legislatures maybe you could be the deputy state secretary to fix things like this. I bet you it pays well.

  2. Not that I want you to get “all puffed up” on yourself (like so many GOP ) but thank God that you do what you do, Cory. We need more just t do what yu do-question and search! thx

  3. Roger Cornelius

    Senator Cory will not just be representing District 3, he’ll be representing all the interest of South Dakota voters.
    All the more reason to hit his campaign jar.

  4. Congratulations Cory. This just proves what we all know, you deserve to serve.

  5. Thanks, Jake, Roger, and Mark! This petition law is wonky stuff, the kind of thing I love but which can put regular audiences to sleep. But we need legislators who can dig into this nitty-gritty and keep our political process as free and open as possible.

  6. Way to go, Cory! Awesome-ness!

  7. If we’re puffing people, I’ve heard that Mr. Novstrup has a whole bunch of bills in the chutes. Most of them dealing with laws to open more government and make it apparent that there is no corruption where there is no corruption and to smite the fellows who dabble in the shadows. He is probably putting them in the chute himself.

  8. Great job Cory. More proof that Dakota Free Press is the REAL number one political website in South Dakota!

  9. Donald Pay

    Great. Let’s see if they fix it. Don’t hold your breath.

    I guess it might be some solace that the new language was the result of incompetence rather than something more sinister. What was it in 1987 when they stripped South Dakota citizens of the right to vote on citing radioactive waste disposal facilities? Was that chicanery or incompetence? Maybe they ought to fix that “error,” too.

  10. Mr. Pay, this isn’t about The Borehole, into which they will not put radioactive waste, nor is it about The Open Cut, into which they may already be piling some garbage. it is about how Ms. Krebs is fixing some arcane nuance in laws nobody in the real world really cares about. I bet you a fully loaded American breakfast that Ms. Krebs will tout this law bill over and over and will get almost zero to 3 votes against it without anybody on the Democrat side lifting a finger. In fact if every Democrat in the legislatures voted against it, it would probably get all but 2 of the Republican votes on that strength alone.

  11. Donald, I have Krebs on the record saying this change was not the Board’s intent. We can follow up in October with the Board, which includes the redoubtable Linda Lea Viken, whom I hope we can count on not to let such chicanery stand. Last year, Krebs said they would tackle the SB 67 date contradiction, and the Board did that… except they created this new language problem. I’ll just have to watch more closely when their bill comes up in the Senate.

  12. Grudz, if Al has openness bills in the chute, I look forward to his posting and openly discussing them on his popular social media channels—oh, wait, what?