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.