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Marmorstein: Referred Law 19 “Hardly Healthy for Democracy”

House Majority Leader Brian Gosch says Republicans made Referred Law 19, so “Every voter, especially Republicans, should support Referred Law 19.” The South Dakota Democratic Party says Referred Law 19 is just an incumbent power grab.

On this issue, Republican columnist Art Marmorstein sides with us Democrats:

…the law creates extra obstacles for outsider candidates. Under its provisions, nominating petitions have to be turned in earlier, before the legislative session ends. Further, RL 19 prevents registered Republicans and Democrats from helping independent candidates get their names on the ballot. Can’t sign their nominating petitions if you’re registered with a party.

Small inconveniences? Yes, but it’s the multiplication of these small inconveniences over the years that have given us a situation where 25 percent of South Dakota legislative races (and 45 percent of state legislative contests nationwide) will be uncontested this year. That’s hardly healthy for democracy [Art Marmorstein, “It’s Getting Harder for Outsider Candidates,” Aberdeen American News, 2016.08.25, p. 6A].

Gosch’s naked call to partisanship cannot withstand conservative Dr. Marmorstein’s principled assessment of Referred Law 19’s harmful effects. Regardless of party affiliation, voters should be able to agree that independents deserve fair treatment and that party membership should not take away our right to help independent candidates get on the ballot.


  1. Robin Friday 2016-08-25 13:09

    There’s no reason in the world (or even in South Dakota) why incumbents need to be “protected”. What they need to be is voted out once in a while.

  2. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-25 14:22

    You’re right, Robin. I have yet to hear one person give me an honest non-partisan reason for passing RL 19. I have yet to hear anyone explain how the rights RL 19 takes away are balanced by concrete gains for the state.

  3. grudznick 2016-08-25 19:24

    We should have term limits that compass in the entire legislatures, so they can’t hop back and forth like marmosets. And set those limits to 2 years. You do your 2 years and then you’re done. For life.

  4. Lee Schoenbeck 2016-08-25 20:59

    This law isn’t good for incumbents either. They don’t get the chance to go home, post-session and get reoriented, before deciding whether to run again. Getting that time at home to recharge the battery in the real world, is more important than you might think

  5. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-08-26 19:34

    I agree with Schoenbeck on the incumbent deterrent effect, denying them some breathing space after Session to decide if they want another go-round. But rather than canceling out the disadvantages to newcomers, that incumbent pain would only augment the main effect of giving us fewer candidates, fewer choices, and more races with no contest.

  6. John Wrede 2016-08-28 21:22

    Sadly, every South Dakotan should run the opposite direction from anything that Brian Gosch concocted…… The man can not be trusted as far as anybody can throw him

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