Rep. Dan Dryden (R-34/Rapid City) died yesterday. Rep. Dryden was running for re-election to the House, along with fellow Republican Senator Craig Tieszen and Democratic challenger Steve Stinson.
The statutory deadline for replacing vacancies on the ballot was August 9. The Secretary of State had to certify candidates to county auditors by August 16. Given the up-to-four-week process required to design, proof, and print ballots in time for the delivery deadline of September 21, it appears there is no way to remove Dryden’s name from the ballot.
Bob Mercer concludes that the two remaining candidates, Tieszen and Stenson, will become District 34’s Representatives. However, Secretary Krebs says votes for Dryden will still count and could keep Stenson out:
“If he wins, what would happen then is that the governor would end up, by state law, appointing a replacement, and that replacement would not be able to be done until after the canvas, the official election canvas, which is a week after the general election,” Krebs says. “At that time the governor would then be able to appoint for Dan Dryden’s replacement” [Lee Strubinger, “State Rep. Dryden Remembered as a Statesman,” SDPB Radio, 2016.08.30].
My morning Googling finds no clear process outlined in South Dakota law for discounting votes for a candidate who cannot serve. We thus appear to default to the sixth paragraph of Article 4, Section 3 of the South Dakota Constitution:
Whenever a vacancy occurs in any office and no provision is made by the Constitution or laws for filling such vacancy, the Governor shall have the power to fill such vacancy by appointment [SD Constitution, Article 4, Section 3].
Voters who mark Dryden’s name will essentially be voting for Governor Dennis Daugaard to make his twelfth appointment to the Legislature. From one perspective, such a vote is a vote not to vote, or to subordinate the voters’ will to the Executive Branch. From another perspective, instead of being left with no choice, voters in District 34 have a chance to cast a generic vote for “None of the Above,” or, practically, given the Governor’s past appointments, “Any Other Republican.”
When we raise our flags back to full mast, Stenson will have to shift gears from running against Tieszen and Dryden to running against Tieszen and Daugaard.