Wednesday, October 12, 2016

SD Voters Not Allowed to Write-In Presidential Name on Ballot

Thanks to Richard Winger of Ballot Access News for this post.

South Dakota is one of four states that has never permitted Write-In voting. This year, there is so much interest in Write-In voting, especially for President, that South Dakota Secretary of State Shantel Krebs felt compelled to say, in a speech on October 10, that South Dakota doesn’t permit Write-Ins.

The reason South Dakota doesn’t permit Write-Ins is that the 1891 Legislative session, which passed a bill for Government-printed ballots, wrote the law to bar Write-Ins. Back in the 1890’s and 1900’s decades, when State Legislatures did that, State Courts almost always ruled that ballots without Write-In space are unconstitutional. Every State Supreme Court that considered the question, from the beginning of Government-printed ballots in 1889, through 1989, always upheld Write-In space, with the single exception of the South Dakota Supreme Court. State Supreme Courts in 20 states threw out Write-In bans.

In 1901, a voter sued the Secretary of State of South Dakota over the Write-In ban. Back then the South Dakota Supreme Court only had three members, and for that case, one of the three Justices was unable to participate in the Write-In case, Chamberlin v Wood, 88 NW 109. So only two members of the Court heard the case, and they disagreed with each other. One voted to uphold and the other voted to strike it down. On a tie, the statute survived.

The other states that never permitted Write-In voting throughout history are Nevada, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. Louisiana permitted Write-Ins until the Top-Two system passed in 1975. Although Louisiana changed the use of Top-Two, it has never restored Write-Ins.

Every South Dakota State, Local, and Congressional election in Louisiana is decided by November Election without no Primary. The rules are that all candidates for a single office, regardless of Party, appear on the same ballot on Election Day in November, and all voters, regardless of Party, can vote for any one of them. If no candidate wins 50% of the vote, a Runoff between the Top-Two vote-getters takes place a month later. It's completely possible for this type of Election to produce a runoff between two candidates of the same Party or independent candidates in the Runoff.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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richardwinger said...

Thank you for carrying this blog post. I feel that your last paragraph is misleading. Louisiana doesn't have any primaries (except presidential primaries). It only has elections (on federal election day, in November of even years) and then a general election run-off if no one gets 50%. The first round is an election, and 85% of the time, someone is elected in the election, so it isn't accurate to call it a "primary". It is an election.

mhdrucker said...

We call the Nov. election a General Election. Who named it a "General" election? When did the Supreme Court allow a General election in December? I now it isn't a Primary and will fix it.