Federal judge blocks Secretary of State from enforcing SB 180, registration for paid petition circulators

KELOLAND.com Original
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — In a 28-page ruling, a federal judge blocked the South Dakota Secretary of State from enforcing a 2020 state law requiring registration for paid petition circulators. 

United States District Judge Lawrence Piersol ruled the “State did not meet its burden of showing that the burdensome requirements of SB 180 challenged by Plaintiff as violating the First Amendment are substantially related to the State’s interests in election integrity and avoiding fraud.”

Piersol issued a preliminary injunction. You can see the ruling documents below.

Dakotans for Health, a group looking to get Medicaid expansion on the 2022 ballot, filed a lawsuit against Gov. Kristi Noem, who signed Senate Bill 180 in 2020. The lawsuit, first filed in March, was also against the Attorney General and the Secretary of State. 

“This court agrees that the State has an important regulatory interest in preventing fraud and its appearances in its electoral processes. But the record does not support the conclusion that SB 180’s public disclosure requirements combat actual instances of fraud or forgery committed by petition circulators in the signature gathering process,” the ruling said.  

Pam Cole, a spokeswoman for Dakotans for Health, told KELOLAND News in April paid workers are needed to meet the threshold of signatures needed to get an initiated measure or constitutional amendment approved for the ballot. 

“I had submitted my information under the ruling of SB 180, but I did not like that,” Cole said in April. “I did not like the fact, as a paid petition circulator, that people could go look up my information, find out my email address, my cell phone; a lot of these ballot measures have a level of controversy. We don’t need that.”

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