Press "Enter" to skip to content, Third-Party Coalition Join Fight Against SB 69

Senate Bill 69, the South Dakota Legislature’s incumbent protection plan, has drawn fire from South Dakota activists. SB 69 stinks so bad that national groups are taking notice and voicing their support for our referendum effort., a national group that has promoted Independent voting rights and candidates since the 1990s, has begun contacting its members and allies in South Dakota to encourage them to sign and circulate petitions to refer Senate Bill 69. This national organization calls SB 69’s provision to take away registered party voters’ right to sign petitions for Independent candidates “outrageously undemocratic.” South Dakota Voice of Independents, which is affiliated with, is helping contact South Dakota Independents and distribute SB 69 referendum petitions. says that so far, the Independent South Dakota voters it has contacted overwhelmingly agree that SB 69 should be repealed.

SB 69 has also drawn the ire of the Coalition for Free and Open Elections. COFOE’s field representative and Ballot Access News author Richard Winger testified against SB 69 in January, before Republicans really started to stink up the bill with partisan tricks. Now COFOE has issued a resolution supporting the referendum of Senate Bill 69:

In March of this year, the South Dakota Legislature passed a bill that prohibits voters who are registered with a party from signing a ballot access petition for an Independent candidate. Senate Bill 69 limits voter choice by making it more difficult for an Independent candidate to gain ballot access.

Everyone should have the right to sign a petition for an independent candidate.  Party affiliation is not the same issue for independents as it is for partisans. SB 69 makes it difficult for Independent candidates to reach the signature requirement by reducing the number of voters who are qualified to sign to just those unaffiliated with a party.  And in so doing it reduces voter choice in the general election and prevents a Democrat or Republican who is dissatisfied with their party’s candidate from helping to mount a challenge.

SB 69 further limits voter choice by moving the petition-filing deadline for newly qualifying parties from March 29 to March 1 [Coalition for Free and Open Elections, resolution, received 2015.05.08]. is a member of COFOE, as are the Constitution Party, FairVote, Green Party of the US, Libertarian Party, Reform Party USA, and Socialist Party USA.

Wait a minute: did I read that right? The Constitution Party and the Socialists working together? If Senate Bill 69 can get those two opponents to work together, then Senate Bill 69 must be really, really bad.

This diverse assortment of Independents and third parties joins the Centrist Project in condemning the South Dakota Legislature’s effort to keep Independents off the ballot and chip away at South Dakotans’ voting rights.


  1. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-05-10 17:55

    I like your name for 69 best: “Incumbent Protection Plan”. It’s so fitting.

  2. Douglas Wiken 2015-05-10 19:48

    Check your headline spelling. After thinking about this issue for a time, I now think Democrats, Republicans, Independents all should be allowed to vote in primaries, but in only ONE primary per election. What is fair for Independents should be fair for all. Not sure what if any implications that might have, but think it warrants some thought.

  3. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-10 20:21

    Thanks, Deb! We need some fast branding for this complicated bill; those three words seem to encapsulate it best.

    And thank you, Doug! Spelling fixed! And you are prescribing the standard open-primary fix. I could live with that, especially in some Legislative and county races where all of the candidates are from one party, making the primary the deciding vote.

  4. Nick Nemec 2015-05-10 21:32

    I suggest an all candidates primary. The top two regardless of party make it to the general election.

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-11 07:46

    Ah, the jungle primary! Curious: how often in SD Senate races would that result in a D-R tilt, and how often would the top two Rs beat the D in the primary?

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2015-05-11 08:16

    Whatever kind of primary we have, the real solution to the problem SB 69 originally sought to fix is to move our primary to the Tuesday after Labor Day. Let the parties pick their Presidential nominees in a special June primary or even caucuses on their own tab. In return, parties would get four more months to recruit candidates for statewide, legislative, and county offices, voters would get a blessedly shorter campaign season, and petition hawks would still get more time to review petitions than is provided under either current law or SB 69.

  7. Deb Geelsdottir 2015-05-11 14:13

    This is my favorite part of Nick’s plan, as expressed by Cory: “blessedly shorter campaign season”


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