Referred Law 19’s Intent Is To Clarify Election Petitioning Process

Aug 15, 2016

Credit Kent Osborne / SDPB

Referred Law 19 would uphold a state law passed during the 2015 legislative session, which sought to clarify the election petitioning process.

Proponents say it levels the playing field, while opponents claim it will result in fewer candidates for office.

The roots of Referred Law 19 stem back to 2015 when the state Board of Elections approached the state legislature to change the date for filing candidate petitions. Secretary of State Shantel Krebs wanted the dates pushed back to allow for more time to pour over submitted petitions.

The bill passed by lawmakers requires that an Independent candidate can only get signatures from other Independents, the same as for Republicans and Democrats.

Republican Senator Ernie Otten proposed the amendment and voted in favor of the bill.  

“So, if you’re tired of the Republicans for what they’re doing or if you’re tired of the Democrats, being an Independent… I get that end of it,” Otten says. “But having said that, when one rejects either party, what then gives them the right to think that they are aloof from everybody else? If you’ve rejected to be a Republican and you’ve rejected to be a Democrat, then why do you think you should be able to go back to those individuals and get those signatures?”

In addition to the Independent’s requirement, petitioners have to gather one percent of all party member’s signatures. The bill was passed and turned into law. That’s until liberal blogger and candidate for district three senate seat Cory Heidelberger referred the law.

Heidelberger says the bill makes it harder to run for independents to run for office.

“So, they’re having to ask more questions, ask more intrusive stuff. And, percentage wise, the percentage of the people who can sign in that room goes down from 81 percent to 17 percent… only 17 out of 100,” Heidelberger says. “That makes it practically impossible for independents to get on the ballot. And this is proven. Because Louisiana did a law like this in 1918, only independents could sign for independents, instead of any voter. And for thirty years not one independent made the ballot.”

A yes vote in November enacts the law. A no vote cancels the law.