A judge on Friday ordered Secretary of State Jason Gant to reprint the state's election pamphlet and include Sen. Stan Adelstein's opposition statement to a constitutional amendment backed by the governor.
Adelstein, a Republican from Rapid City, filed suit against Gant last week in circuit court in Hughes County, saying Gant broke the law by not including Adelstein's opposition statement regarding a balanced-budget amendment proposed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard. Adelstein opposed the measure in the Legislature.
The court ruling Friday means Gant must reprint the pamphlets with Adelstein's opposition statement, distribute it to county auditors throughout the state and publish the new version online. Adelstein said the ruling gives voters balanced information about the amendment.
"The voters otherwise would be voting for an entirely different thing than they are told," Adelstein said. "It would be awful for the state to be stuck with this impediment to the constitution."
Daugaard wrote a 229-word statement favoring "Constitutional Amendment P," which will mandate a balanced budget each year. Adelstein said the measure weakens current law by removing a provision that requires the Legislature to levy a tax if expenses exceed income.
More than 17,000 votes have already been cast since Sept. 21 when early voting started.
By law, Gant is required to publish an explanation and one "pro" and "con" statement for each ballot measure. Statements are often written by legislators, political or organization leaders or citizen advocates supporting or opposing the ballot measures.
Adelstein said in a prepared statement that 6th Circuit Judge Mark Barnett said, "The Secretary did not comply with the law."
Gant issued a statement Friday, saying, "The court's ruling provides me the opportunity to publish more information to the voters of South Dakota."
Gant sent out a news release two weeks ago detailing the attempts he made to acquire opposition statements, and after getting no responses, he printed and mailed the pamphlet before early voting. He said then he would not print Adelstein's opposition, or "con," statement.
Since 2002, only two constitutional amendments have not had an opposition statement. This year, Gant published the pamphlet without opposition statements on all four constitutional amendments.
Pennington County Auditor Julie Pearson said the pamphlets are available at the auditor's office in the Pennington County Courthouse upon request. However, they are not available at each polling location on Election Day. She said they are not often requested at her office.