SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Another lawsuit is being brought against South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem: This time, it’s about ballot measures.
The League of Women Voters of South Dakota have brought a complaint against the governor, interim Attorney General Mark Vargo, and Secretary of State Steve Barnett regarding a 2020 law about who can circulate petitions.
The law states that the circulator of a petition must be a South Dakota resident for at least 30 days. The lawsuit alleges that this law reduces the pool of circulators and severely restricts voters’ access to ballot measures and engagement in political activity.
“The residency requirement imposed by SB180 to circulate petitions to voters stands
in stark contrast to the residency requirement to vote on such measures,” the lawsuit reads. “A voter may reside in South Dakota for one day and be eligible to vote, provided that the voter represents that they intend to reside in South Dakota.”
The suit goes on to allege that SB180, the piece of legislation that created this law, infringes on the First Amendment right to political speech as protected by the United States Constitution and South Dakota Constitution. The League of Women Voters of South Dakota also state that this law violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
The League of Women Voters of South Dakota is made up of 138 nonpartisan members. Their mission states a commitment to empowering voters, defending democracy, and providing fair access to the ballot.
“To place a residency requirement on petition circulators, especially a limitation that would prevent registered voters from circulating petitions on things on which they are entitled to vote, makes it unnecessarily harder for voters to learn about ballot measures on important issues affecting their communities,” said Cheryl Ott, President of the League of Women Voters of South Dakota.
This isn’t the first time that SB180 has been involved in a lawsuit. In 2021, Dakotans for Health filed a lawsuit against Gov. Noem for the signing of the bill into law. A U.S. District Judge ruled that in that case, 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.”
Dakotans for Health was working to get a Medicaid expansion onto the 2022 ballot which they have now succeeded in doing.