South Dakota Libertarian Party wins ballot-access case

LP South Dakota logo, Mt. Rushmore as backdrop, text 'Libertarian South Dakota' (color image)

A federal judge has ruled unconstitutional South Dakota’s laws regulating third-party access to the ballot. From ABC affiliate KOTA-TV’s coverage of the Feb. 21 decision:

Judge Lawrence Piersol ruled that the laws violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party.

The ruling says that the state requirement for signatures needed to get on the ballot is too high and that the March deadline in an election year is too early.

The judge ruled that the law does not “grant new parties the time or the opportunity to organize in order to place candidates … on the general election ballot.”

Lead attorney for the plaintiffs, Stephen Pevar from the ACLU said he and his clients were pleased.

“South Dakota has one of the most, if not the most, restrictive ballot-access laws in the United states,” he said. “In South Dakota you have to get 2.5 percent of the people who voted for governor in the last gubernatorial election. More than forty states have a one percent requirement.”

There is a note of irony in the timing of [the] ruling. Sec. of State Shantel Krebs has introduced a bill to the Legislature — HB 1286 — that would have granted the plaintiffs everything they sought and made the lawsuit moot. The bill has not been brought up for a vote in the House.

Now that the court has made an adverse ruling, the state is liable for a mid six-figure legal bill from the ACLU.

Read radio station KELO Newstalk’s independent coverage, “S.D. Libertarian Party wins ballot access case.”