Despite some lawmakers leaving early, 59 representatives happened to still be in the House on Friday afternoon when Rep. Nancy York stood to talk. She explained what’s behind changes sought for parts of South Dakota’s election laws. York, R-Watertown, said election officials in different states are backing away from direct electronic recording of votes. South Dakota law allows it but it hasn’t been used. Security of a person’s ballot is the main reason. HB 1013 would repeal references to direct electronic recording from state law, she said.
Articles about voting issues in South Dakota.
Joyce Scott made hundreds of phone calls and knocked on countless doors, helping persuade South Dakota voters to approve a ballot measure last year tightening campaign contribution limits and creating a government ethics watchdog. Republican lawmakers quickly torched the new rules this year and instead are seeking changes that would make it far tougher for residents to bypass the statehouse at all. Scott and others angry about the swift repeal of the voter-backed anti-corruption initiative have turned to the 2018 ballot, hoping to enact a new constitutional amendment that even the Legislature can’t touch. “I was disgusted that we had to go through this again,” said Scott, a 75-year-old Democrat who collected signatures for the new campaign after seeing lawmakers dismantle the first ethics package. “We had already told them once what we wanted.”
The state Board of Elections has endorsed draft legislation that would block a type of electronic voting system from being used in South Dakota. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs said Monday that a direct recording electronic voting system hasn’t been used in the state. Krebs says South Dakota uses paper ballots. The board supported 2018 draft legislation that would remove references to the machines from state law. Krebs says officials want to take a “very proactive approach.”
The American Civil Liberties Union is supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would take control of redistricting from South Dakota legislators and give it to an independent commission. The civil liberties organization reported an Oct. 1 expenditure of $1,145.60 for web pages supporting signature-gathering efforts for the amendment. ACLU of South Dakota spokeswoman Jen Petersen says the spending comes as part of a 50-state voting rights campaign from the ACLU’s grassroots platform.
A national nonprofit has pledged $140,000 to help supporters of a constitutional amendment that would move South Dakota to an open primary system for many races, the nonprofit’s spokesman said Tuesday. New York-based Open Primaries is supporting the amendment campaign’s signature-gathering efforts, spokesman Jeremy Gruber said. The proposed amendment would have the top two finishers in a primary advance to the general election regardless of party. Backers of the amendment hope to start gathering signatures around Sept. 1, campaign chairman Joe Kirby of Sioux Falls said. They must submit nearly 28,000 valid signatures to the secretary of state by November 2017 for the amendment to appear on the 2018 ballot.
After out-of-state groups spent millions of dollars on ballot measure and constitutional amendment campaigns last year, a task force is set to consider proposals Wednesday that could make it harder to pass a measure in South Dakota. Lawmakers, elections officials and ballot campaign insiders on the Initiative and Referendum Task Force have met twice this summer and are set to consider 20 draft bills aimed at reforming the state’s ballot initiative and referendum process. They could bump up the number of voters needed to pass a constitutional amendment, cap the number of amendments that voters can take up on each ballot and set up a board to hold hearings on ballot measures before voters take them up. And they’ll also consider requiring uniform font, changing filings deadlines and shifting some of the information that comes out about proposals before they hit the ballot.
Supporters of a proposed ballot measure that would allow South Dakota counties to switch to elections conducted entirely by mail ballot aim to put the initiative before voters next year, the sponsor said Friday. Backers are waiting for approval to start gathering signatures to appear on the 2018 ballot. Sponsor Drey Samuelson said the vote-at-home plan would help people cast an informed vote, increase election turnout and save taxpayer money. “We’re very serious about it,” said Samuelson, a co-founder of initiative group TakeItBack.Org. “We’re going to get this on the ballot, and I’m confident that we’ll pass it.”
South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is considering a second request from the presidential advisory commission on election integrity for South Dakota voter registration data, an aide to Krebs said Friday. The July 26 request differs from the previous one because it promises voter information won’t be released to the public, according to spokesman Jason Williams. “The commission also stated in the second letter that they were no longer requesting personal identifying information such as Social Security numbers, driver license numbers, and full date of birth,” Williams said. He added: “This request is currently being reviewed by legal counsel to ensure that South Dakotan’s personal information is properly protected according to state law.”
Supporters of a constitutional amendment that would take control of redistricting from South Dakota legislators and give it to an independent commission hope to put the amendment before voters in 2018, a key supporter said Thursday. Attorney General Marty Jackley this week filed an explanation of the amendment with the secretary of state’s office, a step required before petition gatherers can spread out across the state. Supporter Rick Weiland, a former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, said the plan — a reprise from 2016 — would make elections fairer in South Dakota.
Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment that would switch South Dakota to an open primary system for some political offices say they plan to put the measure before voters in 2018. The effort includes veterans of a campaign last year for a similar amendment that didn’t pass, but backers of the new proposal say they’ve learned lessons from the previous push. Joe Kirby, chairman of the group proposing the constitutional amendment, said it would apply to primaries including those for the state Legislature, governor and congressional offices. For example, in a gubernatorial race under the plan, there would be an open primary in which the top two vote-getters would advance to the general election.