Republican Senator Lee Schoenbeck has a pretty good memory. Republican Secretary of State Steve Barnett’s memory is somewhat less than elephantine. KELO-TV’s Bridget Bennett quizzed Secretary Barnett last week on the unusualness of voting on Amendment C at primary time:
It’s a major change for the state’s ballot initiative process that’s been in place for more than a century and some are questioning why its being decided during a primary election.
Bridget: “Have we seen constitutional amendments on a primary ballot before?”
Secretary of State Steve Barnett: “Not to my knowledge” [Bridget Bennett, “The Constitutional Amendment on the June Primary Ballot,” KELO-TV, 2022.04.21].
I don’t expect any one person to have perfect encyclopediac knowledge of 130+ years of South Dakota election history (except maybe Tony Venhuizen). But as Election-Nerd-in-Chief, the Secretary of State should have more facts on hand about South Dakota’s election than anyone else. It is thus… surprising that Secretary of State Barnett would not recall that we voted on a constitutional amendment at primary time just four years ago, when Republicans put Amendment Y up for a rush vote at the June 2018 primary.
Barnett didn’t take over supervising South Dakota elections until 2019. Prior to that, he had his head down over the state’s books in the State Auditor’s office. He ran for Secretary of State in 2018 on the argument that the Secretary’s first priority ought to be business, not elections. His lack of knowledge about recent election history suggests that he’s sticking to that pro-business priority.