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Under legislation passed in South Dakota, people who signed a petition to refer a matter to the voter ballot, can have their signatures removed from the petition, even after certification.

Legislation to allow removing petition signature passes

PIERRE – Legislation intended to inhibit efforts to put measures on the 2024 election ballot sailed through the Senate Monday afternoon, sending
it to the Governor for final approval.

House Bill 1244 would allow those who have signed ballot initiative petitions to go through a process and retract their names, even after the petition has been certified as qualifying for the ballot by the Secretary of State.

Proponents of the legislation say that it is intended to crack down on coercion or misrepresentation – petition circulators for efforts aiming
to get on the general election ballot later this year have been accused of both.

Bill Would Remove Petition Signatures After Certified

However, opponents of the bill argue that it is an infringement intended to stifle citizen-led initiative efforts.

“I don’t think the public is going to see this as an infringement on their rights,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Lee Schoenbeck.

“You have these big money interests that are coming into our state and pushing these ballot issues and they are putting everything into it, and they are getting people to sign with their paid circulators, and there is no one pushing back on the other side.”

The bill was the brainchild of Rep. Jon Hansen, who is leading the effort to block a proposed amendment to the constitution that would substantially expand access to abortion in South Dakota.

An emergency clause in the legislation would make it so that it would apply to that effort – spearheaded by Dakotans for Health.

“There is already a remedy for signers who change their mind,” said Democratic lawmaker Reynold Nesiba. “They can simply vote no.”

The governor is likely to sign the bill. Should it become law, Dakotans for Health has threatened to sue the state over it.

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