South Dakota Legislator May be Removed from Ballot

South Dakota Representative Brian Gosch faces a possibility of being removed from the November ballot. He is running for re-election in the 32nd district. If he is removed, voters will have no choice to make. The district elects two representatives, and there are only three candidates, two Republicans and one Democrat. If Gosch, one of the Republicans, is removed, there will be only two candidates left on the ballot and voters choose two. South Dakota is one of five states that bans all write-in votes in all elections.

Gosch notarized his own petitions when he sought a place on the Republican primary ballot earlier this year. South Dakota law does not permit a notary public to notarize a document for himself or herself. Gosch said, technically, he was notarizing the petition on behalf of the individual who circulated the petition, and not notarizing it for himself, and the Secretary of State therefore accepted the filing. Gosch then won the Republican nomination. However, another South Dakota Republican, Stephanie Strong, then sued the Secretary of State. On September 14, a Circuit Court Judge in Pennington County ordered the Secretary of State to either remove Gosch from the ballot, or appear at a court hearing on October 3 to explain why he didn’t do that. See this story.

Strong brought the lawsuit after her own petition to get on this year’s Republican primary ballot was rejected by the Secretary of State. She was running for U.S. House and needed 1,955 valid signatures. She submitted 2,018 signatures but the Secretary of State determined some of her petitions were invalid.

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