The League of Women Voters of South Dakota and the League of Women Voters of the United States filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging SB 180, a South Dakota law that required petition circulators to be South Dakota residents who have lived in South Dakota for more than 30 days. The complaint asserts the new law violates the League’s First and Fourteenth Amendments of the US Constitution as well as rights protected in Article VI §§ 18 and 19 of the South Dakota Constitution.
Under SB 180, petition circulators, defined as anyone over the age of 18 who resides in South Dakota and gathers signatures for ballot initiatives and candidacy petitions, must have lived in the state for at least 30 days before they may gather signatures. Current state law allows persons to vote after having one day of residency and affirming they intend to reside in South Dakota.
The League and its co-plaintiffs argued that SB 180 has a significant and negative impact on its efforts to qualify ballot initiatives. According to the League, approximately 1,000 petition circulators are needed to successfully qualify initiatives for the ballot. Because of South Dakota’s small population, the League found it difficult to find enough volunteer petition circulators to qualify initiatives. Hiring paid circulators to ensure qualification of ballot initiatives costs approximately $425,000 and $545,000, a prohibitively expensive price. Due to SB 180, several would-be volunteers have been prevented from assisting the League with gathering signatures.
The plaintiffs, therefore, requested the court to declare SB 180 unconstitutional under the US and South Dakota Constitutions and block enforcement of the residency requirement.
The League was represented by Heidepriem, Purtell, Siegel, Hinrichs and Steptoe & Johnson LLP.
League files Complaint
The League of Women Voters of South Dakota, the League of Women Voters of the United States and two co-plaintiffs, file a lawsuit challenging SB 180, a law imposing residency requirements on petition circulators in South Dakota.
First Amended Complaint filed
Defendants file answer
League files motion for judgment on the pleadings
Court partially grants motion to strike
The court partially grants LWV South Dakota's motion to strike the defendants' affirmative defenses, finding the plaintiffs had standing to bring the case. The court denies the League's request for judgment on the pleadings.
Parties agree to dismiss case
The parties agree to dismiss the case, after a court struck down SB 180 in a related case, Dakotans for Health v. Noem, meaning the League's case is also resolved.