The 2016 General Election is here! The polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, November 8. Absentee voting remains open until Monday, November 7,... It’s Election Time – Do You Know How You Are Voting?

hdr_vote-1The 2016 General Election is here! The polls open at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, November 8. Absentee voting remains open until Monday, November 7, at 5 p.m. at the Grant County Auditor’s office in the Grant County Courthouse. Despite the focus on the presidential race, South Dakotans also have important issues on their ballot.

According to Grant County Auditor Karen Layher, 16.27%, or 708 voters, in Grant County have cast their ballots using early voting. There are 5,352 active and inactive voters in the county. “In 2012, we had 900 absentee voters,” Layher said, “With the remaining time to absentee, I think we will be close to that number.”

Layher and her staff prepared for the election for many months. “All is going well,” she stated. “Preparation has gone very smoothly. We have all the supplies ready for the polling places and the precinct officials. I will be conducting election schools for the precinct workers and we will be setting up voting booths and the AutoMark voter assist unit.

“Election day begins at 6 a.m. in my office,” she said. The day after the election is also busy as we pick up the equipment, clean the equipment, and store it. Now, I just want to encourage people to get out and vote!”

In Grant County, there are two county commissioner races. Voters in District 2 will have a choice between Democrat Bill Street and Republican Roger Loeschke. Both reside in Milbank. Candidates for the District 4 commissioner position are incumbent Doug Stengel, Republican of rural Milbank, and Steve Scoblic, Democrat of rural Big Stone City.

Voters will choose from two candidates for the District 4 Senate seat to replace Jim Peterson. Candidates are Democrat Kathy Tyler of rural Big Stone City and Republican John Wiik, Big Stone City.

Four candidates will vie for two open South Dakota House of Representative seats. Candidates are: Republicans Jason Kettwig of Milbank and John Mills of Volga. Democratic candidates are Peggy Schuelke of Revillo and Matt Rosdahl of Clear Lake.

Voters will also cast their vote for a United State Senator. The choices are Republican incumbent John Thune of Sioux Falls or Democrat Jay Williams of Yankton. Running for the United State House of Representatives are Republican Kristi Noem of rural Castlewood and Democrat Paula Hawks of Hartford.

Voters will also cast their ballots to fill the vacancy on the Public Utilities Commission. Candidates are Republican Chris Nelson pf Pierre and Democrat Henry Red Cloud of Pine Ridge.

Finally, in the presidential election, voters will have the choice of Republican candidates Donald Trump and Mike Pence; Democrat candidates Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine; Libertarian candidates Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, or candidates Darrel Castle and Scott Bradley of the Constitution Party.

There are 10 issues South Dakota voters will also weigh in on. The issues include five amendments, three initiated measures, and two referred laws. The following includes a short description of each.

Constitutional Amendment R
Amendment R is an amendment to the South Dakota Constitution regarding post-secondary technical education institutes.
Attorney General’s Explanation – Under the SD Constitution, the Board of Regents is responsible for post-secondary educational institutions funded entirely or in part by the State. Constitutional Amendment R applies to post-secondary technical education institutes that receive state funding and offer career and technical association of applied science degrees, certificates or their equivalents. Currently, there are four such institutes: Lake Are Technical Institute, Mitchell Technical Institute, Southeast Technical Institute and Western Dakota Technical Institute. Under the amendment, post-secondary technical institutes will be governed separately in a manner to be determined by the Legislature. The amendment also clarifies that the Board of Regents retains control over state-funded post-secondary educational institutions offering associate of arts, associate of sciences, bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees.
A vote “Yes” is for adding a provision to the Constitution regarding post-secondary technical educational institutes.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment S
Amendment S is an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to expand rights for crime victims.
Attorney General’s Explanation – Currently, state statues provide certain right to crime victims. This measure expands these rights and places them in the State Constitution. Under the amendment, the rights provided to a victim generally include: protection from harassment or abuse; the right to privacy; timely notice of all trial, sentence and post-judgment proceedings including pardon or parole; the right to confer with the attorney for the government; and the opportunity to provide input during all phases of the criminal justice process. Victims will be give written notification of their rights. The rights may be enforced by the victim, the victim’s attorney or representative, or the attorney for the government. They may be enforced in any trial court, appeals court, or other proceeding affecting the victim’s rights. The definition of “victim” includes a person who suffers direct or threatened harm as the result of any crime, attempted crime, or act of juvenile delinquency. It also includes that person’s spouse, children, extended family members, guardians, and others with a substantially similar relationship. If a victim’s rights provided by this amendment conflict with a criminal defendant’s rights under the South Dakota and United State Constitution, a court may determine that the defendant’s rights take priority.
A vote “Yes” is for expanding statutory rights of victims and placing the rights in the Constitution.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment T
Amendment T is an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission.
Attorney General’s Explanation – State senators and representatives are elected from within legislative districts. The South Dakota Constitution currently requires the Legislature to establish these legislative districts every ten years. This measure removes that authority from the Legislature and grants it to a redistricting commission. The commission is made up of nine registered voters selected each redistricting year by the State Board of Elections from a pool of up to 30 applicants. This pool consists of applicants registered with South Dakota’s two largest political parties (ten from each), and ten not registered with either of those parties. A commission member must have the same party registration, or be registered as unaffiliated with a party, for three continuous years immediately prior to appointment. No more than three commission members may belong to the same political party. For three years immediately prior to and three years immediately after appointment, commission members may not hold office in certain state or local public offices, or in a political party organization. The commission will redistrict in 2017, in 2021, and every ten years thereafter. The commission must produce a draft map and allow for public comment. The districts must be drawn in compliance with state and federal law.
A vote “Yes” is for changing the Constitution to provide for state legislative redistricting by a commission.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment U
Amendment U is an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution limiting the ability to set statutory interest rates for loans.
Attorney General’s Explanation – Under this constitutional amendment, there is no limit on the amount of interest a lender may charge for a loan of money if the interest rate is agreed to in writing by the borrower. If there is no written agreement, a lender may not charge more than 18% interest per year. A law setting an interest rate for loans is not valid unless the law gives the lender and borrower the ability to agree to a different rate. If an interest rate for loans is established by law, it must apply to every type of lender. The amendment eliminates the ability to set statutory interest rates that are inconsistent with this amendment.
A vote “Yes” is for adding provisions to the Constitution that limit the ability to set statutory interest rates for loans.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Constitutional Amendment V
Amendment V is an initiated amendment to the South Dakota Constitution establishing nonpartisan elections.
Attorney General’s Explanation – Currently, most general election candidates for federal, state and county offices are selected through a partisan primary or at a state party convention. This Constitutional amendment eliminates those methods by establishing a nonpartisan primary to select candidates for all federal, state, and county elected offices. This amendment does not apply to elections for United State President and Vice President. Under the amendment, candidates are not identified by part affiliation on the primary or general election ballot. All qualified voters, regardless of party affiliation, may vote for any candidate of their choice. The two candidates with the most votes advance to the general election. For certain offices where more than one candidate is elected at the general election, the number of candidates advancing to the general election will be double the number of seats to be filled. If the amendment is approved, a substantial re-write of state election laws will be necessary.
A vote “Yes” is for adding provisions to the Constitution to establish nonpartisan elections.
A vote “No” will leave the Constitution as it is.

Initiated Measure 21
Initiated Measure 21 is an initiated measure to set a maximum finance charge for certain licensed money lenders.
Attorney General’s Explanation – The initiated measure prohibits certain State-licensed money lenders from making a loan that imposes total interest, fees and charges at an annual percentage rate greater than 36%. The measure also prohibits these money lenders from evading this rate limitation by indirect means. A violation of this measure is a misdemeanor crime. In addition, a loan made in violation of this measure is void, and any principal, fee, interest, or charge is noncollectable. The measure’s prohibitions apply to all money lenders licensed under South Dakota Codified Laws chapter 54-4. These licensed lenders make commission and personal loans, including installment, automobile, short-term consumer, payday and title loans. The measure does not apply to state and national bands, bank holding companies, other federally insured financial institutions and state chartered trust companies. The measure also does not apply to businesses that provide financing for goods and services they sell.
A vote “Yes” is for prohibiting certain money lenders from charging more than 36% interest on loans.
A vote “No” is against the measure.

Initiated Measure 22
This initiated measure is to revise State campaign finance and lobbying laws, create a publicly funded campaign finance program, create an ethics commission and appropriate funds.
Attorney General’s Explanation – This measure extensively revises State campaign finance laws. It requires additional disclosures and increased reporting. It lowers contribution amounts to political action committees; political parties; and candidates for statewide, legislative or county office. It also imposes limits on contributions from candidate campaign committees, political action committees and political parties. The measure creates a publicly funded campaign finance program for statewide and legislative candidates who choose to participate and agree to limits on campaign contributions and expenditures. Under the program, two $50 “credits” are issued to each registered voter, who assigns them to participating candidates. The credits are redeemed from the program, which is funded by an annual State general-fund appropriation of $9 per registered voter. The program fund may not exceed $12 million at any time. The measure creates an appointed ethics commission to administer the credit program and to enforce campaign finance and lobbying laws. The measure prohibits certain State officials and high-level employees from lobbying until two years after leaving State government. It also places limitations on lobbyists’ gifts to certain state officials and staff members. If approved, the measure may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.
The penalties in this Act are administrative misdemeanors, with one class 5 felony.
A vote “Yes” is for revising State campaign finance and lobbying laws.
A vote “No” is against the measure.

Initiated Measure 23
This measure is to give certain organizations the right to charge fees.
Attorney General’s Explanation – The measure give corporate organizations and non-profit organizations the right to charge a fee for any service provided. This measure takes effect on July 1, 2017.
A vote “Yes” is for allowing certain organizations the right to charge fees.
A vote “No” is against the measure.

Referred Law 19
Referred Law 19 is an act to revise State laws regarding elections and election petitions.
Attorney General’s Explanation – Currently, primary election candidates for certain offices must circulate and submit nominating petitions between January 1 and the last Tuesday in March. Referred Law 19 changes that time frame to between December 1 and the first Tuesday in March. The referred law also changes other election-related submission deadlines, adjusting them from the last Tuesday in March to the first Tuesday in March. Certain election-related documents, including nominating petitions, are currently considered timely submitted if sent by registered mail before the deadline. The referred law changes this to require that these documents be received by the submission deadline. It also changes the method for calculating the number of signatures required on nominating petitions for certain elective offices. The referred law prohibits a person registered with a recognized political party from signing an independent candidate’s nominating petition. The current law does not contain that prohibition. Under the referred law, an independent governor candidate cannot appeal on the ballot if the corresponding lieutenant governor candidate withdraws and a replacement is not certified by the second Tuesday in August. It also restricts the circumstances under which a political party may replace a candidate who has withdrawn from consideration after the primary election.
A vote “Yes” is for revising State laws regarding elections and election petitions.
A vote “No” is against the referred law.

Referred Law 20
Referred Law 20 is an act lowering the State minimum wage for non-tipped employees under age 18.
Attorney General’s Explanation – State law requires employers to pay all non-tipped employees a minimum wage, with limited exceptions. Currently, that amount is $8.55 per hour. State law also requires that the minimum wage be adjusted, effective on January 1 of each year, by any increase in the cost of living as measured by US Department of Labor’s Consumer Price Index. Referred Law 20, if approved, would lower the existing State minimum wage to $7.50 per hour for non-tipped employees under age 18. In addition, no annual cost-of-living wage adjustment would be required for the youth minimum wage. The referred law would also prohibit employers from taking any action to displace an employee or reduce an employee’s hours, wages, or benefits, in order to hire someone at the youth minimum wage.
A vote “Yes” is for lowering the minimum wage to $7.50 per hour for non-tipped employees under age 18.
A vote “No” is against the referred law.

Layher noted a pamphlet compiled by the Office of Secretary of State Shantel Krebs is available at the County Auditor’s office to assist in understanding these issues.

Staff Writer

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *