Editors note: Cory Heidelberger is someone with whom conservatives have much disagreement. That said, there are times when the left and the right must come together for the good of our country and the preservation of liberty. This is one of those times. Please ready Cory’s commentary and consider joining the effort to STOP SB 69.
Conservative neighbors, I understand your grief. When I joined some of your allies to testify against Common Core in February, I saw what they saw: a legislative establishment that ignores your concerns. I recognize that on Common Core and other issues important to conservatives, the only way to get what you want will be to elect legislators and a governor who share your goals. You need to find good candidates, get them on the ballot, and win elections.
That’s why I’m asking you to help me stop Senate Bill 69 with a referendum petition.
Senate Bill 69 makes it harder to find candidates and get them on the ballot.
Senate Bill 69 moves the deadline for party candidates to submit their petitions almost a month earlier, from the last Tuesday of March to the first Tuesday in March. Folks considering a run for public office lose decision-making time. We lose candidate recruitment time. And candidates lose those longer and warmer March daylight hours to circulate their petitions.
Senate Bill 69 moves the date candidates can start circulating petitions from January 1 to December 1. Candidates get another month of the coldest, shortest daylight hours of the year to go door to door. Circulators will interrupt Christmas shopping and holiday parties. SB 69 leaves candidates with much less useful, respectful time to gather signatures and support. The net result of changing the petition circulation period to the absolutely coldest, darkest days of the year will be that fewer candidates will make the ballot, and you will have fewer choices when you vote.
Senate Bill 69 changes the minimum number of signatures candidates must gather from one percent of their last gubernatorial candidate’s vote to one percent of their party’s registered voters. In most cases, that change means party candidates will have to gather more signatures to get on the ballot. The net result: again, fewer candidates will make the ballot, and you will have fewer choices when you vote.
Senate Bill 69 also changes the rules for the worse for Independents. Right now, any registered voter has the right to sign a nominating petition for an Independent candidate. Last year, no matter what party you belonged to, you had the right to sign for Gordon Howie or Larry Pressler for Senate. Senate Bill 69 takes that right away. Senate Bill 69 forbids voters registered with parties—that’s four out of five South Dakota voters—from signing Independent petitions.
Louisiana passed similar restrictions on signing Independent petitions in 1918. For the thirty years Louisiana kept that law on the books, not one Independent made the Louisiana ballot. Louisiana’s ballot access experience was so damning that a federal court in Arizona cited it to declare a similar Arizona law unconstitutional in 1999.
Forbidding party voters from signing Independent petitions effectively excludes Independent candidates from getting on the ballot. It also takes away your right to nominate whom you want for the general election ballot. By hammering Independents, Senate Bill 69 takes away your voting rights.
What can we do to take back our electoral rights? We can refer Senate Bill 69 to a public vote. If you’ll sign my referendum petition, and get your friends to sign, we can freeze this law. Referring SB 69 to the ballot stops it from taking effect this year, meaning candidates will be able to run for office in 2016 under the current, fairer rules. And then we get our chance to vote the law down for good in November 2016.
Referring Senate Bill 69 won’t happen on good wishes. It will take work. We need 13,871 valid signatures by June 29. To be safe, I say round up: we need a thousand people to each go get twenty signatures.
But defending our rights from the bigger powers who would take them away has always been work… the work of patriots.
If you want your vote to count, you need candidates to vote for.
If you want policies like Common Core to change, you need candidates to get on the ballot and lead conversations about those policies.
Senate Bill 69 seeks to stop you and your candidates from achieving your goals.
If you want to protect your political rights, you need to stop Senate Bill 69. Sign the petition. Circulate the petition. Support the referendum of Senate Bill 69.
Editors note: In March, we published an article titled Eliminating Independent Candidates which provides more information on SB 69.