Press "Enter" to skip to content

Marsy’s Law Gets June Vote: Should We Show, and Should We Switch?

Speaker G. Mark Mickelson and his new big-money friends from California get their special treatment: we vote on the Marsy’s Law fix at our June 5 primary. The House gave final approval to the ballot measure (House Joint Resolution 1004) and the $200,000 funding for the special vote (House Bill 1162) yesterday with minimal opposition.

Along with the obvious question of whether we should vote for this special favor to amend the Californian graffiti in our constitution, two practical questions for voters arise from the unique primary placement of this ballot measure:

  1. Two amendments have already been certified for the November ballot. By law, they should be designated Amendments W and X. Will the Marsy’s fix still be labelled Amendment Y, even though we will vote on it before X and Y?
  2. Is this single ballot measure worth turning out to vote on for voters who won’t have any primary contests or local candidates to vote for?
  3. If tinkering with the crime victims bill of rights is worth coming to the polls, should Democrats and other interested non-Republicans get more bang for their buck by switching their party registration to Republican and voting in the Noem/Jackley and Johnson/Krebs/Tapio contests?

Ancillarily to #3, I’m curious: can Democratic candidates who file nominating petitions prior to the primary change their registration in May to Republican, vote in the primary, then switch back to Democratic before convention and retain their position on the Democratic general election ballot?


  1. Robin Friday 2018-03-08 12:00

    1. Don’t care what they label them as long as we know what we’re doing.

    2. Yes, we should show. California laws don’t necessarily work for SD. According to what I’ve read from States’ Attorneys, Marsy’s law is an obstructive mess for SD law enforcement.

    3.Gut says No. That would be dishonest and undemocratic.

    4-5-6-7. Will we be able to vote early on Marsy’s Law, and will there be explanatory sample ballots before June 5? Will there be adequate information out to the public beforehand to make an informed decision? Or is our Secretary of State too busy campaigning to see to that kind of thing?

  2. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-08 12:52

    1. Here’s what worries me, Robin. If the SOS sticks with the statutory order and dubs Marsy’s Fix as Amendment Y then dubs HJR1006, the single-subject restriction on amendments, as Amendment Z, then our November balot will have W, X, and Z… and some voters may stand there flipping their ballot wondering if someone left off Y!

    By trying to reduce the number of amendments on the November ballot, Mickelson may have introduced more confusion to that ballot!

  3. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-08 12:54

    2. Robin, I’d agree with the state’s attorneys that Marsy’s Law is an obstructive mess. What if Marsy’s Fix isn’t really a fix? We don’t have a better option on the table. Should we vote Mickelson’s Fix down to press the Legislature to repeal it completely, or should we surrender as Mickelson has to the rich Californian and leave that graffiti in our constitution?

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-08 12:57

    So Robin, suppose I want to vote in the sheriff primary between Kaiser and Millbrandt. Is there a way for me to do that switch honestly, openly, and democratically? Suppose I say upfront that I’m going to make the switch for the primary, as allowed under SD law, then switch back and continue to run as a Democrat for State Senate. Do I harm the process or voters’ trust by doing so?

  5. Jean Farlee 2018-03-08 14:47

    Our family has found out about Marcy’s law by being a victim. Our grandson was murdered in
    Oct. The victims advocate has kept his parents and girlfriend informed every step of the way. I will add that I didn’t sign the petition to put it on the ballot nor did I vote for it but I will vote for it now. I wonder why this hasn’t happened without a law. To keep the families informed seems like it’s the decent thing to do. And I wonder if it’s really so expensive for the counties.

  6. Donald Pay 2018-03-08 16:13

    Here’s what I would say:
    (1) They should go back to the previous way of labeling ballot measures.

    (2) Yes. Use it to send a message to G. Markey: VTOE on the spring primary ballot to teach the legislators to stop being corrupt.

    (3) That’s up to you. Unlike SD, Wisconsin has an open primary. I could vote in the Republican primary here just by asking for the Republican ballot. I have yet to do it here. I don’t recall doing it in South Dakota, although I have voted for Republicans on the general election ballot.

  7. Robin Friday 2018-03-08 18:38

    I applaud your confidence in our voters, Cory, as to their wondering where their “Y” is. I doubt the labels are a problem for most voters, do you think they would be put off by labels? I’m afraid most voters don’t study the initiatives and referenda as some do. In fact, I’m afraid there are very few voters who do. Maybe I’m wrong. I’m just hoping we’ll have the chance to study them well before the election. The newspaper publishing them just a few days before election, and the sample ballots arriving just a few days before election doesn’t help most people, if they truly want help understanding.

  8. Robin Friday 2018-03-08 18:45

    2. yes, of course we should show. Elections are important. Regarding Marsy’s Law, I believe I should have called it a “hot mess” from what I’ve read. If that is indeed not true, I hope we are well informed beforehand if I need to change my mind about that (it’s happened). Jean Farlee, thank you for sharing your side, and my condolences to you and your family.

  9. Robin Friday 2018-03-08 18:52

    And Cory, I’m for open primaries too, and if one local race is so important to you that you would change your party to vote for one candidate, I guess that would be up to you and I would have to withdraw my charge that it would be dishonest. But my practical side says I would be giving up my vote for all other candidates, and it’s not worth that.

    And I hope you give that N-guy nightmares–or at least something to lie awake nights over.

  10. Curt 2018-03-08 19:14

    It appears to me that the declaration of candidacy does not bar the candidate from temporarily changing his/her registration for purposes of participating in a primary election. It appears that a candidate could switch parties for a week (or so) – long enough to cast a ballot – and then promptly switch back. It might result in getting some interesting campaign mailings.

  11. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2018-03-09 09:42

    Robin, faith in the voters is a fundamental axiom of my politics. :-)

    As for the letter confusion, it’s probably a small thing, but when it comes to election rules, small things matter. If I were the Secretary of State, I would want everything on the ballot ordered clearly, without any chance of misunderstanding or confusion. A slight misunderstanding or delay multiplied over 300,000 voters can lead to big trouble, maybe even changed outcomes.

Comments are closed.