Ballot access requirements for political candidates in South Dakota
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|Ballot access policy in the United States|
| Ballot access for major and minor party candidates |
| List of political parties in the United States |
|Ballot access information by state|
- 1 Year-specific years
- 2 Political parties
- 3 Process to establish a political party
- 4 Process to become a candidate
- 5 Petition requirements
- 6 Campaign finance
- 7 Election-related agencies
- 8 Term limits
- 9 Congressional partisanship
- 10 State legislative partisanship
- 11 Recent news
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 References
- United States Congress
- State executive offices (e.g., governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state)
- South Dakota State Legislature
This page contains information on specific filing dates for each election year, how to become a candidate, how to create a political party, campaign finance requirements, state agency contacts involved in the election process, and term limits in South Dakota. Information on running for election as a presidential candidate or for county and municipal offices is not included.
Note: If you have any questions or comments about this page, email us.
- See also: South Dakota elections, 2015
There are no regularly scheduled state executive, state legislative or congressional elections in South Dakota in 2015.
To view historical dates for 2014, click [show] to expand the section.
As of February 2015, there were five recognized political parties in South Dakota. These are listed in the table below. In order to be recognized by the state, a political party must fulfill certain requirements (detailed below in "Process to establish a political party").
|Party||Website link||By-laws/platform link|
|Republican Party||Official party website||Party by-laws|
|Americans Elect Party||National party website|
|Democratic Party||Official party website||Party by-laws|
|Libertarian Party||Official party website||Party by-laws|
|Constitution Party||Official party website|
In some states, a candidate may choose to have a label other than that of an officially recognized party appear alongside his or her name on the ballot. Such labels are called political party designations. A political party designation would be used when a candidate qualifies as an independent, but prefers to use a different label. South Dakota does not allow candidates to identify in this way. A total of 25 states allow candidates to use political party designations in non-presidential elections.
The 11 states listed below (and Washington, D.C.) do not provide a process for political organizations to gain qualified status in advance of an election. Instead, in these states, an aspirant party must first field candidates using party designations. If the candidate or candidates win the requisite votes, the organization may then be recognized as an official political party. In these states, a political party can be formed only if the candidate in the general election obtains a specific number of votes. The number of votes required and type of race vary from state to state. Details can be found on the state-specific requirements pages.
- The bill moved the filing deadline for newly-qualifying political parties from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March.
- The bill prohibited registered party members from signing the nominating petitions of independent candidates.
- The bill permitted the candidates of small ballot-qualified parties to access the primary ballot via one of the two following methods:
- obtaining signatures from 250 party members
- obtaining signatures from 1 percent of registered independent voters
- The bill raised the primary ballot signature requirement for candidates of large ballot-qualified parties from 1 percent of the party's previous gubernatorial general election vote to 1 percent of the party's total registered members.
The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) and other groups began circulating petitions in March 2015 to subject SB 69 to a veto referendum. If enough signatures are collected, voters will vote to ratify the law of nullify it. According to Ballot Access News, the "AFL-CIO is mostly interested in fighting SB 69 because it has a disproportionate effect on Democrats who want to run in the Democratic primary. SB 69 increased their primary petitions form 1 percent of the last vote for their party nominee for governor to 1 percent of the registered voters in that party."
Libertarian Party files suit against state
On August 9, 2014, the Libertarian Party of South Dakota selected Ryan Gaddy as its general election nominee for Public Service Commissioner. South Dakota Secretary of State Jason Gant refused to accept Gaddy as the party's nominee, arguing that although Gaddy submitted an amended voter registration form to indicate his affiliation with the Libertarians on August 9, 2014, that form was not recorded by the county auditor until the following business week. The state holds, therefore, that he was not a party member at the time he was nominated (state law prohibits parties from nominating non-members). According to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Tashjian v. Republican Party of Connecticut that the "freedom of association" clause contained within the First Amendment of the United States Constitution allows parties to nominate non-members.
Constitution Party candidate denied ballot access
In March 2014, a gubernatorial candidate for the Constitution Party, Curtis Strong, had his petition rejected by the South Dakota Secretary of State for an insufficient number of signatures to get on the party’s primary ballot. The secretary of state claimed that Strong submitted only 238 valid signatures, while Strong maintained he submitted 262 signatures and fully verified the registration status of each signer. South Dakota law requires the signatures of 250 party members in order for a gubernatorial candidate to appear on the party’s primary ballot. All ballot-qualified parties in the state, which includes the Constitution Party, nominate their candidates for governor and Congress through a primary ballot. Without a gubernatorial candidate that achieves 2.5 percent of the total votes cast for governor, a party loses its ballot-qualified status. In 2010, the Constitution Party sued the state over its failure to get its gubernatorial candidate on the ballot that year due to the signature requirement. Although the United States District Court ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing, the court also said that the signature requirement was unconstitutional. According to ballot expert Richard Winger, the requirement is likely unconstitutional because the United States Supreme Court ruled in Storer v. Brown that if the signature requirement divided by the number of eligible signers is much greater than 5 percent, the law is unconstitutional. A 1985 court ruling in Pennsylvania held that a similar circumstance, in which the Consumer Party of Pennsylvania was required to obtain 2,000 signatures from 7,000 party members, was unconstitutional.
Process to establish a political party
See statutes: Title 12, Chapter 12-5 of South Dakota Codified Law
A political party in South Dakota is defined as "a party whose candidate for governor at the last preceding general election at which a governor was elected received at least 2.5 percent of the total votes cast for governor."
- A new political party may be organized and participate in the primary election by filing with the secretary of state no later than the first Tuesday of March at 5 p.m. prior to the date of the primary election.
- A new political party must submit a written declaration signed by at least 2.5 percent of the voters of the state as shown by the total vote cast for governor at the last preceding gubernatorial election.
- The written declaration must contain:
- The name of the proposed party
- A brief statement of the party's principles.
- No signature on a declaration is valid if the declaration was signed more than one year prior to the filing of the declaration.
- A political party loses the right to participate in the primary election by failing to poll its candidate for governor at least 2.5 percent of the total votes cast for that office.
|Votes cast in 2010 gubernatorial election||Number of signatures to achieve certification|
Constitution and bylaws
- A political party must also adopt a constitution or a set of bylaws to govern its organization and the conduct of its affairs. The party's constitution and bylaws must not be inconsistent with laws of South Dakota.
- The party central committee shall certify to and file with the secretary of state's office a copy of the document and amendments within 30 days of their approval.
- If a party chooses to elect precinct committeemen and committeewomen at the primary election, the party shall provide for such election in the party's constitution or bylaws.
Nomination of candidates
- If a political party qualifies for the primary ballot, each candidate intending to participate in that party's primary election must file a nominating petition.
- State and federal candidates for that party must file a petition bearing signatures of at least 250 registered voters in that party.
- Legislative and county candidates for that party shall file a petition bearing signatures of at least five registered voters in that party.
- The state convention will nominate candidates for Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Commissioner of School and Public Lands, and Public Utilities Commissioner.
- Each political party will hold a state convention in each even-numbered year as necessary for the nomination of the above statewide candidates. The time and place of holding such convention shall be determined by the State Central Committee of each political party, the chairman of which shall notify the secretary of state at least 30 days previous to the date so chosen.
Process to become a candidate
For primary candidates
A primary election candidate must file a petition no earlier than January 1, and not later than the last Tuesday of March at 5 p.m., prior to the primary election. The petition must contain the required signatures and a Declaration of Candidacy. The Declaration of Candidacy must be completed before the candidate collects signatures. The declaration must be completed in the presence of an authorized notary public. A petition for party office or partisan public office must be signed by no less than 1 percent of the party's total registered members in the applicable electoral district. For a state legislative candidate, the petition must be signed by the lesser of 50 voters or 1 percent of the party's total registered members in that district. Any state legislative candidate must be a resident of the district for which he or she is a candidate at the time he or she signs the Declaration of Candidacy.
For independent candidates
Any candidate for nonjudicial public office who is not nominated by a primary election may be nominated as an independent candidate by filing with the South Dakota Secretary of State or county auditor. Filing must be completed no earlier than January 1 at 8:00 a.m. and no later than the last Tuesday of April at 5:00 p.m., prior to the election. An independent candidate's Certificate of Nomination must be signed by registered voters within the applicable district or political subdivision. The number of signatures required may not be less than 1 percent of the total combined vote cast for governor at the last certified gubernatorial election within the district or political subdivision. Registered party members cannot sign petitions for independent candidates. No petition or Certificate of Nomination may be circulated prior to January 1 of the year in which the election will be held. Primary election candidates are prohibited from filing as independent candidates for the same office in the same year. No candidate can file a Certificate of Nomination for an office for which he or she has been a candidate in the primary election of the same year. Any candidate for office in the state legislature must be a resident of the district for which he or she is a candidate at the time he or she signs the Declaration of Candidacy.
For informational purposes, the table below provides examples for signature requirements for independent candidates running in 2014:
|State House District 7||State Senate District 20||State House District 26A||State Senate District 28A||South Dakota 1st Congressional District|
|Required number of signatures||76||98||27||31||3,171|
For write-in candidates
The relevant statutes do not stipulate that a candidate may run as a write-in candidate. Write-in candidates for president are expressly prohibited.
In some cases, political parties and/or candidates may need to obtain signatures via the petition process to gain access to the ballot. This section outlines the laws and regulations pertaining to petitions and circulators in South Dakota.
In South Dakota, there are several requirements for circulators gathering signatures on behalf of a candidate. These requirements include:
- Must be 18 years old
- Must be South Dakota resident
- Must personally witness each signature on petition circulated
- Verification of signatures after circulation must be witnessed by notary public
- Must state under oath that no statute regarding petition circulation was knowingly violated,
- Must make reasonable inquiry that determines each signer is a registered voter of the state and county indicated on the petition.
- A circulator may be employed at an hourly wage or salary, but must not be paid or rewarded based on the number of signatures to the petition.
See statutes: Chapter 12, Section 27 of South Dakota Codified Law
Each candidate must have a campaign committee. A "candidate campaign committee" is defined as "any entity organized by a candidate to receive contributions and make expenditures for the candidate."
A candidate's campaign committee must have and continually maintain a chair and a treasurer, which may be the same person. The chair and treasurer for a candidate campaign committee are appointed by the candidate, and the candidate may serve as either or both. No political committee may receive or make contributions or pay expenses while the office of treasurer is vacant.
The candidate must file a Statement of Organization with the South Dakota Secretary of State no later than 15 days after becoming a candidate. A person is considered a candidate if the person raises, collects, or disburses contributions in excess of $500; has authorized the solicitation of contributions or the making of expenditures; or has created a candidate campaign committee for the purpose of obtaining public office. The person is also deemed a candidate if the person has taken all actions required by state law to qualify for nomination for or election to public office.
The Statement of Organization may be filed electronically. A candidate's Statement of Organization must include the following:
- the name, street address, postal address, and daytime telephone number of the committee
- the name, street address, postal address, and daytime telephone number of the chair and the treasurer of the committee
- a statement of the type of political committee that has been or is being organized (in the case of a candidate campaign committee, the name, street address, and postal address of the candidate)
- the name, street address, postal address, and telephone number of each financial institution where an account or depository is maintained
The statement must be signed by the candidate and treasurer for a candidate campaign committee or filed electronically.
No person, organization, candidate, political committee, or political party may give or accept a contribution unless the name and residence address of the contributor is made known to the person receiving the contribution. Any contribution, money, or other thing of value received by a candidate, political committee, or political party from an unknown source must be donated to a nonprofit charitable organization.
No organization may make a contribution to a candidate committee or political party. An "organization" includes any business corporation, limited liability company, nonprofit corporation, business trust, or entity organized in a corporate form under federal or South Dakota law.
No candidate may accept any contribution from any state, state agency, or political subdivision of the state.
A candidate is not allowed to receive more than the following from a single contributor:
- $4,000 for statewide office candidates
- $1,000 for legislative and county office candidates
Statements of financial interest
Any candidate for the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, governor, circuit court judge, or the state legislature must file a statement of financial interest with the South Dakota Secretary of State within 15 days after filing nominating petitions.
Any candidate for lieutenant governor, state treasurer, attorney general, secretary of state, state auditor, public utilities commissioner, or commissioner of school and public lands must file a statement of financial interest with the South Dakota Secretary of State within 15 days after their nominations have been certified.
Pre-election (primary and/or general) statements must be filed with the South Dakota Secretary of State on the second Friday prior to each primary and general election complete through the 15 day prior to that election. Year-end statements must be received by the South Dakota Secretary of State by 5:00 p.m. each February 1. This must include information from the end of the last filed report through the last day of the preceding calendar year. A supplemental statement must be filed if any candidate campaign committee for statewide office, political action committee, ballot question committee, or political party receives a contribution of $500 or more within 14 days immediately prior to an election. The statement must be filed within 48 hours of the receipt of the contribution.
A campaign finance disclosure statement must include the following information:
- committee name, street address, postal address, city, state, zip code, daytime and evening telephone number, and e-mail address
- type of campaign statement (pre-primary, pre-general, mid-year, year-end, amendment, supplement, or termination)
- the balance of cash and cash equivalents on hand at the beginning of the reporting period
- the total amount of all contributions received during the reporting period
- the total amount of all in-kind contributions received during the reporting period
- the total of refunds, rebates, interest, or other income not previously identified during the reporting period
- the total of contributions, loans, and other receipts during the reporting period
- the total value of loans made to any person, political committee, or political party during the reporting period
- the total of expenditures made during the reporting period
- the total amount of all expenditures incurred but not yet paid (an expenditure incurred but not yet paid must be reported on each report filed after the date of receipt of goods or services until payment is made to the vendor; a payment shall be listed as an expenditure when the payment is made)
- the cash balance on hand as of the close of the reporting period
- the total amount of contributions of $100 or less in the aggregate from one source received during the reporting period
Further requirements for campaign financial disclosure statements can be accessed here.
The treasurer of a candidate's political committee must maintain and preserve detailed and accurate records of all contributions, loans received or made, receipts, invoices, and bills. These are to be maintained and preserved for a period of seven years, or three years past the date of filing the termination statement for the election for which the contribution or expenditure was made, whichever is earlier.
- See also: State election agencies
Candidates running for office will require some form of interaction with the following agencies:
- South Dakota Secretary of State
- Why: This agency provides and processes nominating petitions and campaign finance forms.
- Capitol Building
- 500 East Capitol Avenue, Suite 204
- Pierre, SD 57501-5070
- Phone: 605.773.3537
- Fax: 605.773.36580
- Website: http://www.sdsos.gov/electionsvoteregistration/electionsvoteregistration_overview.shtm
- Capitol Building
The state executive term limits in South Dakota are as follows:
- The governor may serve a total of two terms.
- The comptroller may serve a total of two terms.
- The lieutenant governor must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after serving two consecutive terms.
- The secretary of state must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after serving two consecutive terms.
- The attorney general must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after serving two consecutive terms.
- The treasurer must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after serving two consecutive terms.
- The auditor must wait four years and/or one full term before being eligible again after serving two consecutive terms.
There were no term-limited state executive officials in 2014.
- See also: State legislatures with term limits
A total of six state legislators were termed out in 2014.
|Betty Olson||Republican||State House||District 28B|
|Brian Gosch||Republican||State House||District 32|
|David Lust||Republican||State House||District 34|
|David Novstrup||Republican||State House||District 3|
|Lance Carson||Republican||State House||District 20|
|Manford Steele||Republican||State House||District 12|
A total of 10 state legislators were termed out in 2012.
A total of 12 state legislators were termed out in 2010.
Here is the current partisan breakdown of the congressional members from South Dakota:
|Congressional Partisan Breakdown from South Dakota|
|Party||U.S. Senate||U.S. House||Total|
|TOTALS as of May 2015||2||1||3|
State legislative partisanship
Here is the current partisan breakdown of members of the state legislature of South Dakota:
|Party||As of May 2015|
|Party||As of May 2015|
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the terms "South Dakota ballot access."
- Some of the stories below may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of Google's news search engine.
- South Dakota elections, 2014
- Campaign finance requirements for South Dakota ballot measures
- South Dakota signature requirements
- State election agencies
- Counties in South Dakota
- State executives with term limits
- States with gubernatorial term limits
- State legislatures with term limits
- List of United States Representatives from South Dakota
- List of United States Senators from South Dakota
- Official Website of the South Dakota Secretary of State Office
- Official Website of the Federal Election Commission
- FEC 2014 Primary Election Dates and Candidate Filing Deadlines
- 2013 South Dakota Election Code
- Statement of Organization (dead link)
- Campaign Finance Disclosure Statement (dead link)
- Nominating Petition for Partisan Candidates
- Declaration of new political party
- ThirdPartyPolitics.us - a blog about American third party and independent politics
- RangeVoting.org - a listing of notably restrictive ballot access requirements
- Center for Competitive Politics, "Election Law Handbook," Winter 2013
- National Voter Outreach - a political consulting firm that specializes in organizing petition signature drives
- South Dakota Secretary of State, "2014 Candidate Calendar," accessed November 6, 2013
- Phone call with South Dakota Secretary of State, October 9, 2013.
- South Dakota Secretary of State, "Election FAQ," accessed February 11, 2015
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-1," accessed February 4, 2014
- E-mail consultation with ballot access expert Richard Winger in January 2014.
- Ballot Access News, "South Dakota Legislature Passes Bill Making Ballot Access Worse," March 16, 2015
- Ballot Access News, "South Dakota Governor Signs Bill that Injures Ballot Access," March 20, 2015
- Ballot Access News, "South Dakota Referendum Petition, to Overturn Bad New Ballot Access Law, Begins to Circulate," April 21, 2015
- Ballot Access News, "South Dakota Libertarian Party Files Lawsuit to Put its Nominee for Public Service Commissioner on Ballot," August 25, 2014
- Ballot Access News, "South Dakota Constitution Party Gubernatorial Nominee’s Primary Petition Rejected by Secretary of State," March 28, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 19-1-3(10)," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-1," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Secretary of State Website, "South Dakota General Election, November 2, 2010," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-1.1," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-2," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-1.4," accessed January 30, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-21," accessed January 31, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-5-17," accessed January 31, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-6-4," accessed January 31, 2014
- South Dakota Secretary of State, "Circulating a Nominating Petition," accessed October 29, 2013
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-6-7," accessed January 31, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-6," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-1," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-1," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-1.1," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-7-5," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-20-21.2," accessed February 17, 2014
- South Dakota Secretary of State, "Circulating Nominating Petitions," accessed January 2, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-1," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-2," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-1," accessed February 4, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-6," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-11," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-18," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-1," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-21," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27," accessed April 9, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-25-28," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-25-29," accessed February 5, 2014
- South Dakota Secretary of State, "Campaign Finance FAQ," accessed November 26, 2013
- South Dakota Codified Law, "Title 12-27-29," accessed February 5, 2014
- The Council of State Governments, "State Legislative Branch," accessed October 28, 2013