Rapid City’s Kim Wright, founder of South Dakota Voice of Independents, puts the strong Independent case against SB 69 in that Sioux Falls paper:
The November election was one for South Dakota history books. In a state often short on candidate choice, we had multiple Democrat, Republican and Independent candidates for governor, U.S. Senate and local offices. Debates were lively and informative.
In response to the growing number of independent voters and candidates, the Republican-dominated state legislature introduced, amended and passed SB69. This bill makes it virtually impossible for a candidate to seek office as an independent. Previously, any registered voter could sign an independent candidate’s petition. Now only registered independent voters can sign the petition of an independent candidate, reducing the signature pool from 100 percent to 18 percent of registered voters.
The Republican Party has consistently denied independent voters the right to participate in the primary election process. Now they are dictating the process by which independents can seek office, participate in the democratic process and serve fellow citizens. SB69 is an attack on democracy and must be stopped. A coalition of citizens and organizations is circulating petitions to refer SB69 to the voters in the next general election. Please sign and/or circulate petitions (available online at www.sddp.org/referals). Stand up for democracy and return fair voting rights to all South Dakotans [Kim Wright, “SB 69 Impedes Independents from Seeking Office,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.05.25].
Wright isn’t exaggerating: Louisiana’s experience with similar limitations on Independent candidates proved so restrictive that a federal court in Arizona declared such restrictions unconstitutional. And it’s not just Independents losing out; the other 80% of voters, those of you who belong to a political party, lose the right to sign for and nominate Independent candidates.
Every South Dakota voter loses choices and rights under Senate Bill 69. Every South Dakota voter should join Wright in signing the petition to put the Incumbent Protection Plan on hold and submit it to a vote of the people.