The order of candidates appearing on ballots in South Dakota's Nov. 6 general election is now set: Libertarians will appear first, followed by Republicans, Democrats and finally any independent candidates.
The order for the parties was determined Friday morning in the Secretary of State's office at the Capitol. The determination involved a drawing of lots, which is described in the state statute on ballots and election supplies. The Secretary of State's office uses lots that are numbered black marbles selected from a red mug labeled "Vote." Secretary Shantel Krebs supervised the procedure.
Not included in the initial drawing of lots for parties were independents – that is, candidates who have no party affiliation. They are listed last.
The Constitution Party was not a part of the drawing of lots, because Sixth Circuit Court Judge Patricia DeVaney issued a peremptory writ of prohibition dated Friday, Aug. 17, which "ordered and commanded that the Secretary of State shall be permanently restrained from placing any candidates nominated by the Constitution Party of South Dakota on the 2018 general election ballot."
The writ stemmed from legal action taken by Dan Lederman, chair of the state's Republican Party, based on uncertainty about the chairship of the Constitution Party. Lederman’s complaint chronicles a series of events internal to the Constitution Party, that made it hard to tell who, if anyone, was the recognized chair of the party who could call a nominating convention and notify the Secretary of State’s office as required by law.
The court agreed with Lederman’s proposed solution, which was to disallow Constitution Party candidates on the ballot in November.
Based on information provided by the Secretary of State's office, the Constitution Party has had candidates for every election year – those with even numbers – at least as far back as 2004.
This year will be the first time in two decades – the last time was in 1998 – that the Libertarians have been listed first on the ballot. According to information from the Secretary of State's office, since 1988, Libertarians have been listed first three times, Republicans five times, Democrats four times, Constitution Party candidates three times.
The drawing that put the Democrats last among the three parties was done by Berk Ehrmantraut, who attended the drawing on behalf of Bille Sutton's campaign for governor. When he drew for the Democrats, the number on the black marble he picked out of the mug was a "3."
Besides the press and office staff, the only other attendee of the ballot order drawing was Bryan Reyelts, with the Libertarian Party. Reyelts drew the marbles for the dozens of other drawings that were required Friday morning.
The drawing that determined party order also settled the complete ballot order of candidates in races at the top of the ticket where only one candidate per party can run. In the race for U.S. Representative, for example, the listing of candidates will be George Hendrickson (LIB), Dustin "Dusty" Johnson (REP), Tim Bjorkman (DEM) and Ron Wieczorek (IND).
State Senate races have just one candidate per party, which meant on Friday that no additional lots needed to be drawn to sort out partisan Senate candidates. But the Senate race in Minnehaha County's District 25 features two independents, which meant lots had to be drawn to determine their order. In that race, which is not contested by a Democrat or a Libertarian, the ballot order will be Kris Langer (REP), Brian Wirth (IND) and Peter Klebanoff (IND).
State House races in most cases this year feature two candidates per party per district. For any race with more than one candidate per party, or more than one independent, a drawing of lots was needed on Friday to sort those candidates for the ballot.
Based on the Secretary of State's online candidate list, the Republican and Democratic parties are each fielding a total of 65 candidates for state House races.
Compared to a full slate, the Democrats are missing state House candidates in District 28B, District 13, District 19, District 22, and District 33.
To have a candidate for every House seat, Republicans would need to add a candidate in District 15, District 26A, District 28A, District 1 and District 17
In District 24, which includes Hughes, Stanley, Sully and Hyde counties, the ballot order for the House race will be: Tim Rounds (REP), Mary Duvall (REP), Terry Keller (DEM) and Brian Watterson (DEM).
For any given race on Friday, the procedure took a little less than a minute – including the drawing of the marbles, the entry of the result into the computer software system, the manual handwritten separate recording by two other staff members, and the confirmation check by Secretary Krebs. The process, which started at 9 a.m., concluded by around 10:10 a.m.
Krebs said the two staff members who recorded the outcomes of the lot drawings would later that morning be doing an additional check against the numbers entered into the election software.