SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – A co-founder of a political organization seeking signatures on ballot measures to establish a right to an abortion and ending the sales tax on groceries is upset about Minnehaha County’s new public use policy.

The commission voted 5-0 to set up designated areas in front of the Minnehaha County Courthouse and Minnehaha County Administration Building. You can see the two areas marked in yellow in the photos below. 

“This is voter suppression and another attack on direct democracy,” Rick Weiland, co-founder of Dakotans for Health said in a news release. “South Dakota has a rich history of citizens petitioning their government and the Minnehaha County Auditor just made that more difficult.” 

Newly elected Minnehaha County Auditor Leah Anderson requested the new policy and told commissioners the previous policy wasn’t clear enough. 

“We’ve witnessed an increase in activity with those collecting signatures, but also those who wish to share a message of opposition,” Anderson said during Tuesday’s commission meeting. “We would like to have better control over the activities that take place on the campus.” 

There are four possible 2024 ballot measures currently approved by the South Dakota Secretary of State’s office to collect signatures – a Constitutional Amendment establishing a right to an abortion in the state, a Constitutional Amendment to create top-two primary elections and both a Constitutional Amendment and Initiated Measure to stop the sales tax on groceries. Along with the campaign to gather signatures to put the issue of abortion on the ballot, an opposition campaign has formed to advocate for people not to sign the petition. 

Deputy State’s Attorney Eric Bogue said the key words for the new policy is that it allows for “time, place and manner” in providing space for people to exercise their rights to petition.