Remember Annette Bosworth? (How can you forget!) Her indictment and prosecution are based on the fact she is accused of violating her sworn statement that she circulated and witnessed several petition signatures.
“I, under oath, state that I circulated the above petition, that each signer personally signed this petition in my presence, and that either the signer or I added the printed line, the residence address of the signer, the date of signing, and the county of voter registration.”
That sworn statement has Bosworth facing criminal charges. Yet, there’s another portion of the petition that candidates also swear an oath to… and regularly violate with no consequence.
“I, under oath, declare that I am eligible to seek the office for which I am a candidate, that I am registered to vote as a member of the _________ party, and that if I am a legislative or county candidate I reside in the district from which I am a candidate. If nominated and elected, I will qualify and serve in that office.“
(Aside from the penalties in law ascribed to violating the oath at the bottom of the petition) Why should the oath at the bottom of the petition matter… but the one at the top is thrown out with regular abandon by South Dakota Democrats? Because as a regular and common practice, they have candidates present petitions for legislative office who have no intention of running and serving in the office for which their party nominates them.
The State Legislature took a huge step yesterday in fixing that.
State Senator Corey Brown introduced an amendment to Senate Bill 69 that strengthens the integrity of South Dakota elections by tightly constricting ability of candidates to withdraw, limiting withdrawals and eliminating the placeholder loophole. The Brown amendment sets forth:
Section 19. That chapter 12-6 be amended by adding thereto a NEW SECTION to read as follows:
If a party candidate for public office withdraws after filing petitions with the secretary of state, the appropriate party central committee may make a replacement nominee only if:
(1) The party candidate:
(a) Withdraws because of personal illness or illness of an immediate family member that was diagnosed after the petition filing and the illness prevents the candidate from performing the duties of the office sought; and
(b) Files with the withdrawal request a certificate describing the illness and signed by at least two licensed physicians;
(2) There is no other nominee for the office sought by the withdrawing candidate as of the time of the withdrawal;
(3) The party candidate has been elected or appointed to fill a vacancy in another elective office which duties conflict by law with the duties of the office sought, has become the nominee for another elective office, or is deceased; or
(4) The party candidate permanently moves from his or her physical address stated in the nominating petition filed with the secretary of state, and swears and certifies under oath before the secretary of state that the candidate has not resided in the district for a period of thirty consecutive calendar days and has no intention of resuming residency in the district.”
The Brown amendment tightly constricts the reasons for candidate withdrawal to circumstances which arise after the submission of the petition to the Secretary of State, eliminating ‘ghost candidates’ or ‘placeholders’ who are placed into the race for the sole purpose of being replaced later.
There’s more that went into the bill, and I may bring those up shortly, but this was a loophole worth closing. Senate Bill 69 amended to underline the fact that oaths matter? This should be one measure we all move “Do pass.”