South Dakota lawmakers are moving quickly on an election law package to expand state and citizen oversight of candidates’ petitions to secure a spot on the ballot. Two state Senate panels on Wednesday approved parts of the package put forward by Secretary of State Shantel Krebs and the bipartisan state Board of Elections. The Senate Local Government Committee approved a measure allowing the Secretary of State’s office to audit a random sample of voter signatures from statewide candidates’ petitions.
Under current state law, the office has the authority to review a random sample of signatures from voter ballot measures to determine their authenticity, but it can’t check the accuracy of signatures on the nominating petitions of statewide candidates. Krebs said the focus is on offices such as governor and U.S. Senate, not smaller legislative races.
The Senate State Affairs Committee approved a provision designating a “drop dead” date for citizens to begin a court challenge of a nominating petition, and it gives such cases priority over others in the court. The change is meant to ensure challenges can be resolved with enough time for the state to accurately print absentee ballots.