League of Women Voters file lawsuit against a law restricting ballot initiative signature collections

Petition Signing
Petition Signing(Stephen DeLadurantaye)
Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The League of Women Voters of South Dakota and the League of Women Voters of the United States filed a federal lawsuit challenging a law that makes it harder for individuals or organizations to collect ballot initiative signatures.

The law being challenged places a 30-day residency requirement for ballot initiative signature collection.

“Our state has a proud history of voter engagement through ballot initiatives,” said Cheryl Otto, president of the League of Women Voters of South Dakota. “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.”

The two organizations challenging the law claim it violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution as well as the South Dakota Constitution by harming a person’s right to engage in political speech, according to a press release from the League of Women Voters.

“Efforts to restrict voter engagement in this way are an attack on voting rights and only serve to endanger true participation in our democracy, all the while frustrating the non-partisan mission of the League to empower an informed electorate,” said Celina Stewart, League of Women Voters chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation.

“Ballot initiatives are a crucial component of citizen participation in state government, providing the electorate with the ability to consider and vote on critical issues,” said Steptoe & Johnson partner Michael Dockterman. “We are proud to partner with the League of Women Voters in their efforts to protect their core political speech and those of citizens inside and outside South Dakota.”

The full complaint can be read below.

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