Senate Bill 69, the package of election reforms from the Secretary of State’s office has been amended, spindled, folded and pressed multiple times – and it has finally passed both houses and awaits the Governor’s signature.
But what changes in South Dakota’s election laws does this bill offer as a result of passage should the Governor sign it as expected? Well, that’s why we’re here. To offer the practical guide to election changes in 2016 that party activists and candidates can expect as a result of Senate Bill 69.
The SDWC practical guide to the Big Changes in South Dakota election laws for 2016.
#1 – Petition circulation will now begin December 1, 2015 for the 2016 election. According to changes in state law..
…no candidate for any office to be filled, or nomination to be made, at the primary election, other than a presidential election, may have that person’s name printed upon the official primary election ballot of that person’s party, unless a petition has been received in the office of the person in charge of that election on that person’s behalf not prior to December first of the year preceding the election, and not later than the first Tuesday of March at five p.m. prior to the date of the primary election.
This means that you have from December 1, 2015 through The first Tuesday in March 2016, in this case March 1, 2016 at 5 P.M. to have your petitions into the Secretary of State’s office.
** Special note for precinct people. This also counts on your candidacies for precinct committeeman and precinct committeewoman.
#2 – THERE IS NO MORE REGISTERED MAIL TO MEET THE DEADLINE. Noticeable by it’s omission is arguably the worst, and most unfair change to the new law. Those in outlying areas may no longer mail by 5pm of the deadline day. They have to be in the Secretary of State’s office by 5pm 3/1/16, or you are out of luck.
What this means is that if you live in Pierre, you can circulate until about 4:30 that day. If you’re in Harding county? You’d better be mailing it a week beforehand. In a state as geographically large as South Dakota, it’s a real sin of omission.
#3 – Independents are now on a level playing field with party candidates for filing nominating petitions. This was long overdue. Under the law in front of the Governor for his signature, Independent candidates start circulating December 1, and have to have their petitions in by March 1, 2016. According to the enrolled measure:
If the election is conducted with a primary election, each party nomination and independent petition shall be received by the first Tuesday in March. Each nomination shall be certified in a like manner as any other nomination for the purpose of a general election. The election shall be conducted, canvassed, and the results certified as in a general election. If the election is conducted with a general election, each party nomination and independent petition shall be received by the second Tuesday in August.
So, if the office is subject to a primary such as for US Senate, Congress, or state legislature, Indy’s have to have petitions in by March 1, 2016. If it isn’t subject to a primary, such as for Public Utilities Commission this next year, they have until August 9, 2016.
#4 – Petition signature requirements are going to change somewhat. So pay attention. The impending law says….
The petition for party office or political public office shall be signed by not less than one percent of the voters registered for the candidate’s political party at the last general election in the county, part of the county, district, or state electing a candidate to fill the office.
Notwithstanding the provisions of § 12-6-7 a nominating petition for a candidate for office in the State Legislature, county political public office, and county party office shall be signed by not less than fifty voters or not less than one percent of the voters registered for the candidate’s political party at the last general election, whichever is less. The petition shall clearly designate the senatorial or representative district for which the person is a candidate.
and for Indy’s…
The number of signatures required may not be less than one percent of the number of registered voters having no party affiliation or voters registered as other, at the last general election within the district or political subdivision.
So, what are the numbers that candidates will have to work with? I have a chart!
As noted, it’s a minimum of 50 or 1% for each legislative or other district. Statewide, here are rough guesstimations based on the immediate pre-general election numbers. For Statewide candidates, my Republicans will need a minimum of 2405 signatures. Dems will need 1762, and Independents 1023 to qualify for the ballot.
I believe Libertarians and Constitutional candidates may have to get recertified as parties first, but that’s a post for a different day.
#5 – Independent candidates for Governor can now have their Lt’s withdraw without going to court. I’m not sure I really care, but whatever.
#6 – Presidential Primary candidates must be certified by March 1, 2016.
#7 – New political parties also have until March 1 2016 to certify. According to Senate Bill 69:
A new political party may be organized and participate in the primary election by submitting to the secretary of state not later than the first Tuesday of March at five p.m. prior to the date of the primary election, a written declaration signed by at least two and one-half percent of the voters of the state as shown by the total vote cast for Governor at the last preceding gubernatorial election
If I’m reading that correctly, (2.5% of the voters of the state as shown by the total vote cast for Governor) with 277,403 total votes cast for governor, that means new political parties need would need 6935 people to sign on to certify as a political party, which is defined in state law as:
“Political party,” a party whose candidate for Governor at the last preceding general election at which a Governor was elected received at least two and one-half percent of the total votes cast for Governor;
So, according to the vote and the chart above, since I believe Libertarians may have been de-certified as an organized political party since they didn’t have a Gubernatorial candidate, that would mean they need to add about 5558 more people to sign on to become a political party again. Constitutionalists have even farther to go.
Ouch. Better get moving boys.
#8 – Everyone else’s deadlines move up. See the proposed law, but everyone’s deadlines are changing as well for school board, county races, etc.
#9 – NO MORE PLACEHOLDERS TO GAME THE DEADLINE. Read it and weep Dems. You can’t game the deadline on purpose anymore:
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 and the illness prevents the candidate from performing the duties of the office sought; and (b) Submits with the withdrawal request a form signed by a licensed physician verifying that the provisions of subsection (a) apply to the candidate;
(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, it has been determined that the party candidate’s employment conflicts by law with the duties of the office sought, 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 requests in writing, subscribed and sworn to by the candidate before any officer qualified to administer oaths and take acknowledgments 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.
So, no more running just to fill a slot with the intention of being replaced later. If you’re in, you’re in.
#10 – New political parties need a minimum of 250 signatories for statewide candidates. If the libertarians can meet their new quota of 6935 people, they only need 250 of them to sign a petition to run a candidate for statewide office, or 50 for a legislative office.
Want to read all the coming changes for yourself? Here is the law being presented to the Governor for his signature.