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.
Articles about voting issues in South Dakota.
South Dakota: After ethics law repeal, lawmakers try to channel voter intent | Sioux Falls Argus Leader
It took eight legislative days to eliminate a voter-approved campaign finance and ethics law in South Dakota. The fast-tracked effort to gut the law that would have established an independent state ethics commission, set strict new limits on gifts to lawmakers and create publicly financed campaign credits drew scorn from some of the nearly 52 percent of voters who supported the proposal. It also thrust the state in the national spotlight as Republican lawmakers rejected and rolled back the will of the voters. At the Capitol, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Dennis Daugaard were the subject of protests this week as they took the final steps to strike the law set in statute as Initiated Measure 22. Opponents of the repeal efforts chanted “shame on you” and “respect our vote” as lawmakers approved House Bill 1069, which instantly erased the law from state statute when Daugaard signed it Thursday.
Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Thursday signed House Bill 1069, effectively repealing a voter-approved campaign finance and ethics law set into statute as Initiated Measure 22. Because the bill contains an emergency clause, it will take effect immediately. That means the law that calls for establishing an independent state ethics commission, setting strict new limits on gifts to lawmakers, and creating publicly financed campaign credits became history in South Dakota. “The circuit court enjoined Initiated Measure 22, finding it unconstitutional ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.’ It has not been in effect, and it is extremely unlikely that it would ever come into effect,” Daugaard said in a statement. “For that reason, it makes sense to repeal this unconstitutional measure.”
South Dakota: Lawmakers vote to gut ethics and campaign finance law, call on voters to ‘give us a chance’ | Argus Leader
The committee room felt like a courtroom Monday as lawmakers got an opportunity to cross-examine and strike back at supporters of an ethics law that campaigned on a message that South Dakota legislators are corrupt. In a joint meeting of the Senate and House State Affairs Committees lawmakers for more than two hours considered a bill that would repeal the extensive ethics and campaign finance law narrowly approved by South Dakota voters as Initiated Measure 22. Republican lawmakers grilled supporters of the law and asked them to substantiate claims set forth in their campaign. The House committee approved the repeal on a 10-3 vote then asked that South Dakota voters give them a chance to win back their trust.
The audit is looking at how South Dakota had used hundreds of thousands of dollars received through the federal Help America Vote Act program established after the 2000 presidential election. Documents from the past needed for the audit aren’t available in some instances and some past spending is under question whether it was allowable, according to Krebs. Kristin Gabriel now is the HAVA coordinator on Krebs’ staff. Gabriel told state Board of Elections members during their meeting Thursday that HAVA is undergoing an audit that reaches back 13 years to the initial funding period. “We did our best and provided them what we had and what we could find,” Gabriel said.
South Dakota: By state law, voters allowed only 10 minutes to vote on lengthy ballot measures | Rapid City Journal
I could end up in jail on Election Day. Ever since graduating from college as a liberal arts major several decades ago, I’ve always asserted I’m equally ignorant in every academic area. But, after writing a few dozen books and several thousand newspaper and magazine articles, I always thought I could read. That is, until I tried to digest a sample ballot for next month’s general election in South Dakota. It took me nearly 20 minutes, and that was only to decipher the scaled-down version of the numerous and complicated measures on the Nov. 8 ballot. The problem is, according to South Dakota state statute 12-18-15, which carries the ominous heading, “Voting without delay — Maximum time in booth or machine — Re-entry prohibited,” by law I’ll only have 10 minutes to cast my ballot that Tuesday. Forget the contentious presidential election. Discount the congressional races. Disregard who is running for the state Legislature or the PUC. Those are easy decisions.
Disillusioned voters who don’t like any of the presidential candidates in the Nov. 8 general election may be tempted to write in another name. Doing so is not allowed by state law, said Secretary of State Shantel Krebs. “What it doesn’t do is it does not throw the entire ballot out,” she said at a Beadle County Republican Party campaign luncheon in Huron on Monday. “That’s the misconception right now,” she said. “Your ballot is still marked race by race. Any race not marked is not counted.” The intense interest in the presidential race between frontrunners Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump is prompting the national media to regularly call secretaries of state across the country. Krebs said she also gets as many as 1,500 e-mail inquiries a day in her office.
Two organizations that urged supporters to donate money to a ballot committee that is promoting a constitutional amendment in South Dakota denied Thursday that they broke state campaign finance laws. The Vote Yes on V campaign took contributions from two outside groups, Open Primaries and TakeItBack.org, that raised and collected money explicitly to back the ballot measure. While outside groups are free to donate money to ballot committees like Yes on V, state law forbids those organizations from contributing money that was “raised or collected by the organization for the purpose of influencing the ballot question.” In at least two instances, Open Primaries and TakeItBack.org solicited donations citing their efforts to fund the South Dakota amendment, said Will Mortenson, the chairman of Vote No on V. In an email last month, Open Primaries urged its supporters to donate money to Vote Yes on V, which the group promised to match two-to-one to help fund Vote Yes on V television ads. TakeItBack.org also released an email to supporters this week endorsing Amendment V.
After years of trying to get South Dakota legislators to surrender control of redistricting to an independent commission, supporters of the idea are trying to do it instead through a constitutional amendment. Backers say the measure before voters this November would eliminate lawmakers’ conflict of interest and make people feel elections are fair to all parties. “It’s time for fair representation. Period,” said Democratic Rep. Peggy Gibson, who has backed at least nine independent redistricting measures since 2009. “I’m not saying it’ll be perfect, but I’m certainly thinking it will be better than the method that we have now.” Opponents — including majority Republicans — say the current system is working fine. “The idea, I think, is to elect people that are more in line with liberal ideas as far as spending money and a whole host of issues,” said GOP Rep. Jim Bolin, who served on the commission that oversaw the last redistricting plan in 2011.
The State Board of Elections adopted 45 pages of rules changes Monday in order to to keep up with South Dakota’s changing politics. The proposals covered establishing governments for new cities, adopting armed sentinel programs in school districts, filling city and school board vacancies after resignations, conducting random samples of petition signatures for statewide candidates and on statewide ballot measures, and many more. Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson was the only person who testified and wasn’t a board member. She pointed out several times how the rules might be better written.