South Dakota Attorney General Says Parties Can Get on Ballot with No Petition, If They are Willing to Forego Nominating Anyone for Congress, Governor or Legislature

On February 26, the Attorney General of South Dakota wrote a letter to attorneys for the Libertarian and Constitution Parties. Those two parties are currently suing South Dakota over the March 29 deadline to submit a petition for party status. The letter says the parties, or any parties, don’t need a petition if they just want to be on the general election ballot for President and for statewide state executive positions other than Governor (i.e., Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, Public Utilities Commissioner, etc.)

Until this letter arrived, virtually everyone had believed that a group could not become a qualified party in South Dakota unless it submitted a petition of 2.5% of the last gubernatorial vote, which, this year, is 6,936 signatures.

In South Dakota, parties nominate by convention for some offices, and with primaries for other office. The letter says that parties can be on the general election ballot, with no petition, for all the offices in which state law says parties use conventions. That includes presidential elector, of course. The 6,936 signatures are only needed if the new party wants to nominate for Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, or state legislature.


South Dakota Attorney General Says Parties Can Get on Ballot with No Petition, If They are Willing to Forego Nominating Anyone for Congress, Governor or Legislature — 16 Comments

  1. Every state’s Attorney General has the authority to interpret the state’s laws. Only a court (or a subsequent revision of the code by the legislature) can undo an Attorney General opinion.

  2. So if new parties don’t need to file a petition to gain access to the ballot for president, are there any other requirements to create a party? I’m wondering if parties such as the Prohibition Party and America’s Party can gain ballot access in South Dakota just by requesting it?

  3. Yes, they can. They just need to have a state chairman and submit a copy of their statement of principles. Then in August of election years they need to hold a state convention. If they want to be on for President, of course they need to nominate 3 candidates for presidential elector at that convention.

  4. Yes. It is now easier for a group to become a qualified party in South Dakota than in any other state.

  5. Rich,

    I think this is right, Would fall under Nader/Anderson I think:

    Would a Party in SD be able to file for President under one name with One Candidate, and File in another state with another Party Name for the Same Candidate?

    If so, Wouldn’t that make it a LOT easier to get 40-42 state access for a New Party/Independent Candidate?
    If so, Could you send a note to the organization that did that research from the Politico Story?

  6. Richard,
    Thanks for helping clarify the new process in SD for party inclusion on the ballot .
    The American Party is interested in applying .
    If I understand correctly,however, the petition process would still need to be utilized for a party to participate fully in all elections held in SD ?
    Jim Rex , Chair

  7. “Fully” is a vague word. A party can be a qualified party by writing the letter, enclosing the brief statement of principles, and then sometime soon after, sending in its bylaws. And of course it must hold a state convention in August. Then people can register into it, and the state will keep a tally, and the party can run for all the statewide executive offices except Governor, and also run for president. But if it wants to run for Governor, Congress, or legislature, or partisan county office, then it must get the 7,000 signatures in by March 29, 2016.

  8. Is the Libertarian Party going to continue its petition drive so it can place candidates on the ballot for Governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, or state legislature, or is going to call off the petition drive and just place its presidential ticket on the ballot?

  9. Jed,
    This iteration of the American Party was started in South Carolina by a former Republican who had run for governor and the last Democrat able to be elected to a statewide office in SC, who also had run for governor.
    The Party was certified 1/22/14 by SC. The AP had 4 candidates in the 2014 November election
    ( US Senate,Commisioner of Agticulture,Sec. of Ed., and SC House). The AP candidates received more than 153 k votes , ranking the AP the third highest party in total votes in that election.
    The AP hopes to become a multi state party over the next few election cycles .
    The website is
    Inquires can be directed to Jim Rex, Chair

  10. Richard,

    One, It appears as if the legislature is attempting to remove that by initiative, if you can look that up.

    Also, If you can send information to qualify Independent and New party Presidential candidates to the Research firm that you posted a story earlier? It is looking like they need it.

    2. A New SD Party, Let’s say the Conservative party, Fielded 3 electors and a Presidential candidate, Let’s say Willard Romney.

    Now, in a harder state, Let’s say that They went as a Independent for Willard Romney.

    And in another state, Say there was a party called the Conservative Party, So they formed a new party. Let’s call that the Moderate Party. You Guessed it, Willard Romney.

    Would that be allowed, or would it be tossed out due to “He’s another party’s candidate”?

  11. This post is no longer accurate. A few days after the A.G. said a party could get on by “declaration”, we found out “declaration” really means “petition.”

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