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Otten Says SB 69 Is Good Compromise—with Whom?

The press is just starting to get a grip on the more complicated of the two laws this blog is helping to refer to a public vote. Senate Bill 69 includes 24 sections of niggly little changes in dates and vote counts and percentages affecting the conduct of nominating petitions and petitions for organization of new political parties. You can review my detailed summary of the effects of SB 69 on your voting rights here, but I’m happy to let AP boil the bill down to one sentence:

Liberal activist Cory Heidelberger filed a petition in late March to begin such a campaign. Heidelberger said he is working with a politically diverse group of South Dakota activists to push back against the legislation, which Republican Gov. Dennis Daugaard signed on March 20.

“Voters are having their rights taken away,” Heidelberger said [James Nord, “Activists Working to Block Election Law from Taking Effect,” AP via Times-Union, 2015.04.08].

Independent rights, Republican rights, Democratic rights, Libertarian rights—every voter’s rights.

Senator Ernie Otten (R-6/Tea), who helped bring the amendments that turned Senate Bill 69, burbles some vague pablum to the AP to demonstrate he either does not understand or dares not admit the harm his amendments do to your voting rights:

But Republican Sen. Ernie Otten, who worked on the legislation, said that the law changes make sure political parties are treated equally. He said the law is a “good compromise” and could help smaller political parties get out their message and grow.

“We were pretty sure that it was going to get challenged by them, and I guess the voters can have their say in it,” Otten said [Nord, 2015.04.08].

Senator Ernie Otten (R-6/Tea), progenitor of bad amendments to Senate Bill 69.
Senator Ernie Otten (R-6/Tea), progenitor of bad amendments to Senate Bill 69.

Hang on, Senator Otten: you were pretty sure it was going to get challenged? I wasn’t sure it was going to get challenged until just a couple weeks ago. Whence cometh your certainty?

In what ways does SB 69 make sure political parties are “treated equally” in any way that they suffer inequality now? I don’t see any inequality in the previous thresholds. SB 69 brings no changes that make the parties more equal. “Treating parties equally” sounds like a red herring that avoids the net negative impacts on all voters.

And where is this “compromise” that Senator Otten thinks sounds good for the reporters?

Otten said it’s important to give citizens enough time to challenge nominating petitions. He also said the new petitioning period is balanced because it includes the winter holidays, which means more people will be at home when candidates are knocking on doors.

“I think that we came up with something pretty middle of the road,” he said [Nord, 2015.04.08].

The only way in which SB 69 attempts to help citizens challenge petitions is by moving the petition submission deadline date three to four weeks earlier. However, SB 69 also sets an earlier deadline for filing court challenges against nominating petitions, meaning the effective increase in time we have to research and submit challenge affidavits to court really isn’t that much greater than it is now. Plus, SB 69 fails to extend the narrow five-day window citizens have to submit petition challenges to the Secretary of State. Senator Otten and his colleagues did nothing to help citizens gain access to petitions and to the voter registration lists necessary to properly research a challenge; those documents remain cost-prohibitive for many citizens.

And seriously, Senator Otten: you think allowing petition circulation during the winter holidays—shorter, colder, darker days when people are gathering with family and friends to think about something other than politics—somehow “balances” the loss of warmer, brighter weeks after the Legislative session for talking to voters and getting signatures? Are you thinking through reality, Senator Otten, or are you just making excuses for your chipping away of voting rights?

Senate Bill 69 is not middle of the road unless you are measuring from Senator Otten’s preferred extreme of shutting down elections and letting the GOP monolith appoint all legislators (which is kind of what happens now that Republican legislators keep quitting).

I look forward to more press coverage of the complicated Senate Bill 69, since it will draw out more legislators like Senator Otten to say absurd things about their assault on your voting rights.

20 Comments

  1. Porter Lansing 2015-04-09

    Hear, hear

  2. Kurt Evans 2015-04-09

    Cory Heidelberger wrote:
    >”Hang on, Senator Otten: you were pretty sure it was going to get challenged? I wasn’t sure it was going to get challenged until just a couple weeks ago. Whence cometh your certainty?”

    Well, he’d heard the nation’s leading ballot-access expert testify in committee that SB 69’s restrictions on new parties wouldn’t stand up in court.

    And he’d also read this blog’s warnings that its restrictions on independent campaigns wouldn’t stand up in court:
    https://dakotafreepress.com/2015/04/07/knobe-senate-bill-69-punishes-independents/#comment-2881

    Ernie Otten is a corrupt, lying, evil man, and I’m very glad he’s being exposed.

  3. Roger Elgersma 2015-04-09

    Otten compromised all the voters but I see no type of equality. Equality is just a nice sounding word. The public needs more time to think than he thinks is worthwhile so they can decide which laws to refer to the voter after the legislature makes a mistake. There should not be petitions going around during the legislative session. I know they do not answer the hard questions at legislative coffees but at least there is a process to bring up problems during the legislative sessions other than starting petitions. They should not be worried about petitions during the legislature but instead should be thinking about making better laws.

  4. Roger Elgersma 2015-04-09

    This is the same Otten that stated on Public TV that there was no discussion on teen wages during the campaign to raise the minimum wage. Since even us peons all know that minimum wage most directly affect teen wages there did not even need to be a discussion since everyone knows this already. But there was discussion right here on this blog and if he did not hear it and thought it was an important point, then he was irresponsible to not bring it up before the election. Put to imply that the common voter was not aware of teen wages is patently a lie.

  5. Nick Nemec 2015-04-09

    Never trust a politician who feels the need to over compensate on proving his patriotism by wearing a butt ugly stars and stripes tie and a “if you don’t wear it the terrorists win” flag lapel pin.

    Belt, suspenders and super sized onesie.

  6. Dave Baumeister 2015-04-09

    Why would there need to be a “compromise” when the voters already won the argument and had it decided? That would be like saying, after Ernie Otten or any other politician got elected, “Let’s get another candidate to take Otten’s place to compromise with all of the people who didn’t vote for him.”

  7. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-04-09

    Indeed, Dave, I’m unclear who was compromising with whom here. I think we have another example of a legislator just playing karaoke with the words he hears others say but not making any connection to the actual policies he’s pushing.

  8. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-09

    That is one ugly tie he’s wearing.

    Do you DFPers think it’s possible Republicans like Otten really don’t know any better what the practical outcome of this law will be? Is he simply repeating what his owners are saying? Is he deliberately lying? Does he think democracy is not a good form of government and should be replaced with an oligarchy? Is he just stupid?

    A “yes” answer to any of those is not good for him or his cohorts.

  9. Les 2015-04-09

    I’d say it’s a self preservation thing Deb. Not that it preserves anything but his place in the choir, and at the trough.

  10. Bob Newland 2015-04-09

    He is uncommonly stupid, Deb. Everything else follows from that.

  11. larry kurtz 2015-04-09

    good on you, cory. why any of you are surprised by the antics of a south dakota legislator remains a mystery.

  12. Kurt Evans 2015-04-09

    Deb Geelsdottir asks (numbers added):
    >”Do you DFPers think it’s possible (1) Republicans like Otten really don’t know any better what the practical outcome of this law will be? (2) Is he simply repeating what his owners are saying? (3) Is he deliberately lying? (4) Does he think democracy is not a good form of government and should be replaced with an oligarchy? (5) Is he just stupid?”

    I’m leaning toward (2), (3) and (5). He probably thinks Olive-Garchy is an Italian-American restaurant chain. The evidence follows.

    James Nord wrote:
    >”[Ernie Otten] said the law is a ‘good compromise’ and could help smaller political parties get out their message and grow. ‘We were pretty sure that it was going to get challenged by them, and I guess the voters can have their say in it,’ Otten said.”

    That’s right, Ernie. You can be sure those Constitution Party members and Libertarians will oppose any law that threatens to help them get out their message and grow. That’s probably why they’re so glad that under current law they can’t even get candidates on the ballot for the major offices.

  13. larry kurtz 2015-04-09

    Newland: does SDP have a prayer? i’m in the Hills, btw.

  14. grudznick 2015-04-09

    Bob, lar, if you two are going to be exchanging packages at Ifrits tomorrow evening make sure to tell Sarah to give you the good sheesha that she gives ol’ grudz.

  15. Bob Newland 2015-04-09

    Grudzfleming, you are worthless.

  16. Bob Newland 2015-04-09

    Larry, SDP has a prayer. Prolly not much else. What I saw last night was a roomful of hope and naivete.

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-09

    Thanks much for sharing the photos Bob.

  18. Curt 2015-04-09

    Really Bob – naivete? Tsitrian, Katus, et. al. are simpletons or babes-in-the-woods?

  19. Bob Newland 2015-04-10

    Curt, you and Tsitrian and Katus were in the room, but you didn’t fill the room. When I have spent a few hours in rooms with the likes of Ernie Otten, Brock Greenfield, Phil Jensen, et. al., I feel the need to scrub in lye water. A few hours in a roomful of “progressives” feels a little like having been to a tent revival.

    I’ll take hope and naivete to grinding stupidity and evil any day.

  20. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-04-10

    Bob, that is just how I feel, but I haven’t been able to describe it as vividly and viscerally as you just did.

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