Senate Bill 69 amended to underline the fact that oaths matter.

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.

boz31“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.

nomoreplaceholders“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.”

4 thoughts on “Senate Bill 69 amended to underline the fact that oaths matter.”

  1. I disagree. Placeholder candidates are distasteful, but this amendment is overkill and not well written. It requires a candidate to disclose very private medical information in a public document. That private medical information may be a spouse’s or child’s. And does “immediate family” include parents? What if a candidate’s mother gets ill and has to move in with the candidate’s family? Is that sufficient cause? And why does the diagnosis have to be made before filing the petitions? Many illnesses may not prevent a candidate from performing the duties of office at the time of diagnosis, but then take an unexpected turn for the worse.

    And what does section (2) mean? Does it mean that the restrictions in this whole bill really only apply to candidates for the house because that is the only office where multiple candidates are nominated? Or since it doesn’t say nominees “of that party,” does it mean that the Republicans can fill a vacancy as long as the Democrats haven’t also nominated a candidate? In that case, the party committee is actually picking the winner of the election.

    And section (4) requires a candidate to be moved out of his or her home for 30 days before withdrawing. So if the candidate gets transferred to another town and knows he or she can’t assume the office, but that transfer isn’t effective for a month or two, he or she can’t withdraw immediately? That just delays the replacement unnecessarily. And does this part only apply to legislative candidates because it refers to the “district”?

    Simply put, life happens. We can’t predict what the future holds and sometimes candidates have to withdraw. The voters shouldn’t be denied a choice in the election because one party’s candidate withdrew for the wrong reason.

  2. Pat, where is the like button? Mark’s comments are spot on.

    P.S. While placeholder’s are over-used and abused by the Dems, they serve a purpose worth preserving- contested races.

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