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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Correction! Weiland Signers Can Sign for Independent House Candidates!

No Independent candidates for U.S. House have turned up to capitalize on the enthusiasm generated by Kevin Weiland's all-too-brief challenge to incumbent Stephanie Herseth Sandlin. But the possibility does raise the question (actually, I think Larry Kurtz raised it to me): if you signed a petition for Kevin Weiland, can you sign a new petition now for B. Thomas Marking or some other Independent who wants to run for U.S. House?

My initial reading of the relevant statute, SDCL 12-6-8, suggested the answer was no. It says you can't sign petitions "more than the number of candidates required to be nominated for the same office." Democrats and Republicans are free to sign for Independents (that makes it a little easier for Independents to canvass for sigantures), but only "if he has [they have] not previously signed a petition for that office to be filled."

Now I read that and didn't see any explanation of what happens if the petition you signed didn't get filed to place the candidate on the ballot. I said as much to Larry and somewhere else in the blogosphere.

But then I checked with our ever helpful Secretary of State's office. Election Supervisor Kea Warne straightened me out in no time. I was wrong! If you sign a petition for a party candidate but that candidate doesn't file and make the ballot, you can turn around and sign an Independent's petition for the same office.

So there you go, Independents. 3834 grouchy Democrats may be yours for the knocking. And that's enough with a few hundred to spare to put an Independent on the statewide ballot... if you're up for that sort of thing.

Same applies down ballot: if you signed a petition for a local Dem or GOP candidate who then didn't lick the stamp, you can still roust up an Independent to send to Pierre or the courthouse. Tallyho!


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