Senate passes election law bills on partisan votes

Todd Epp, South Dakota Broadcasters Association, contributed this report.January 25, 2023News
Senate passes election law bills on partisan votes

PIERRE, S.D. – On two party-line 31 to 4 votes, the South Dakota Senate passes two election measures this afternoon (Tuesday).

There are 31 Republicans and four Democrats in the chamber.

The first election bill increases the percentage of registered voters needed to move a county seat from 15 to 20%.

Senate Bill 56 also tightens residency certification.

The law, if enacted, would invalidate signatures gathered more than six months prior to filing the petition.

Democratic Sen. Shawn Bordeaux, who represents several counties with concentrations of Native American citizens, said his constituents do not support the bill.

“Have him (Bill sponsor Republican Sen. Ryan Maher from Isabel) work with other communities to sort this out,” Bordeaux said.

Assistant Senate Majority Leader Mike Diedrich (deed-rich), a Republican from Rapid City, said there was no ill intent in the bill, only to ensure the county verifies petition signatures.

The other election bill also passed on a partisan vote.

It makes knowingly submitting an election petition without certifying the person gathered the signatures in person a Class 6 felony.

Democratic Minority Leader Reynold Nesiba (nes-ah-bah) from Sioux Falls predicted consequences for the initiative and referendum process if Senate Bill 46 passed.

“This will cause a chill for those organizing initiated measures,” Nesiba said. “Maybe some of you want that.”

Both measures now move to a House committee for consideration.