Candidates fight to get on South Dakota ballot

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April 15, 2012

South Dakota

PIERRE, South Dakota: Earlier this year, Charles Johnson and David Mitchell filed petitions to run as state legislative candidates in South Dakota. However, Secretary of State Jason Gant rejected those petitions, citing errors on the petition forms. On April 10, the state Democratic Party filed suit on behalf of the two candidates--each a Democrat--to have them added to the ballot.[1]

The party argues that the errors were technical in nature and that the forms substantially complied with the law. In one case, they argue that a county auditor was responsible for the error.[2] Unlike several other states, South Dakota law offers certain protections with respect to the interpretation of election law. South Dakota Codified Laws, 12-6-64 states:

The laws of this state pertaining to primary elections shall be liberally construed so that the real will of the voters may not be defeated by a mere technicality.[3]

South Dakota law offers similar, explicit protections for initiative petitions. Other legislative candidates made similar errors, but had the opportunity to correct the mistakes. Johnson and Mitchell filed too late to submit corrections. The lawsuit was filed in the South Dakota Sixth Judicial Circuit. The primary election takes place on June 5, 2012.[2]

  • The petition in the lawsuit as well as the forms in question can be found here.

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