South Dakota Constitution Party Uses State Convention to Nominate Candidates that Normally Must Use Primary

The Constitution Party is ballot-qualified in South Dakota. However, under the law, the state won’t recognize party nominees for Congress or legislature who are nominated by convention, even though all parties can nominate for certain other partisan offices by convention. Nevertheless, on June 9, the Constitution Party did hold its state convention and it did nominate a potential candidate for U.S. Senate and one for the legislature.

The pending ballot access lawsuit will determine if the party’s nominees for those two offices will be printed on the November ballot. The lawsuit challenges the March 29 petition deadline for parties who want to be able to nominate for Congress and state legislature. Already the judge in the case has suggested that there is no state interest in requiring newly-qualifying parties to nominate by primary for those offices. She said that last month when she denied the state’s motion to dismiss the case.

The Constitution Party’s convention action is very beneficial to the pending lawsuit. If neither plaintiff political party were to hold conventions and nominate for such offices this year, that might delay the lawsuit outcome.


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South Dakota Constitution Party Uses State Convention to Nominate Candidates that Normally Must Use Primary — 2 Comments

  1. Illinois also forces established parties to nominate by primary. There’s a objection process where a primary voter can be challenged as ineligible to receive the particular party’s ballot they requested. In order to facilitate this, the primary election judges are required, by statute, to announce, in a voice sufficiently loud enough to be heard by everyone in the polling place, which ballot the voter requested; however, despite this legal requirement, it’s my experience that they do exactly the opposite. Last primary election, the election judges in my polling place actually posted a sign, indicating that the voter should “quietly” state their preference. I inquired about it, and they indicated they were trained to give this instruction by the local election authority, which is the County Clerk in this case. I’ve complained to the Clerk about this before, indicating that it violates the right of every voter in the polling place and robs them of the chance to raise a valid objection; but nothing ever seems to be done. I’m sure it’s the same elsewhere throughout the state. Even if this were not the case, it’s unclear if not being affiliated with the party is a valid basis for objection (I think it should be valid if the voter, for example, signed the nominating petition for the candidate of a different party in that same election cycle.) Taking these factors together, it amounts to a violation of the associational rights of political parties. There appears to be no effective method by which parties can choose who participates in their candidate selection process. The state can, and does, force party members into association with any and all comers, regardless their values and beliefs; and even those with which the party may not wish to associate are given influence in the selection of the party’s candidates and standard bearers.

  2. By contrast, in Indiana, next door, parties that polled over 2% but under 10% in the last midterm election are free to nominate by convention.

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